Health care expenditures of immigrants in the United States: A nationally representative analysis

Sarita A. Mohanty, Steffie Woolhandler, David U. Himmelstein, Susmita Pati, Olveen Carrasquillo, David H. Bor

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Abstract

Objectives. We compared the health care expenditures of immigrants residing in the United States with health care expenditures of US-born persons. Methods. We used the 1998 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey linked to the 1996-1997 National Health Interview Survey to analyze data on 18398 US-born persons and 2843 immigrants. Using a 2-part regression model, we estimated total health care expenditures, as well as expenditures for emergency department (ED) visits, office-based visits, hospital-based outpatient visits, inpatient visits, and prescription drugs. Results. Immigrants accounted for $39.5 billion (SE = $4 billion) in health care expenditures. After multivariate adjustment, per capita total health care expenditures of immigrants were 55% lower than those of US-born persons ($1139 vs $2546). Similarly, expenditures for uninsured and publicly insured immigrants were approximately half those of their US-born counterparts. Immigrant children had 74% lower per capita health care expenditures than US-born children. However, ED expenditures were more than 3 times higher for immigrant children than for US-born children. Conclusions. Health care expenditures are substantially lower for immigrants than for US-born persons. Our study refutes the assumption that immigrants represent a disproportionate financial burden on the US health care system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1431-1438
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Volume95
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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