While There Are About 12 Million Illegal Aliens in U.S. Today, CBO Estimates That Senate Health Reform Would Leave About 8 Million Illegals Uninsured

November 22, 2009 - 6:21 PM
Emergency room visits by illegal aliens without health insurance already cost taxpayers an estimated $4 billion, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

Demonstrators unveil a 'human billboard' at La Placita Olvera area in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, May 1, 2009 during a march and rally for immigration law reform. Organizers are urging passage of an immigration law that provides a path to citizenship for the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. Sign reads 'Workers First.' (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

(CNSNews.com) - An estimated eight million illegal aliens would be left without health insurance under the Senate health-care bill, that was cleared for debate Saturday, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the plan.
 
“By 2019, the CBO and JCT (Joint Committee on Taxation) estimate, the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured would be reduced by about 31 million, leaving about 24 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants),” the CBO report said.
 
The eight million figure, meanwhile, is only an estimate. Though the Census Bureau says there are 9.5 million uninsured who are “not citizens,” the government does not actually track how many illegal aliens there are in the United States because it does not ask about immigration status.
 
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are an estimated 11.9 million illegals in the United States. Six-in-10 Hispanic adults in the U.S. who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents – or 7.1 million -- lack health insurance, the center estimated.
 
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), told CNSNews.com that eight million "sounds right" as a reasonable estimate of the number of illegal aliens without insurance.
 
“That figure is a dynamic number, and conceivably could be a little lower by next year,” Krikorian told CNSNews.com. “But it doesn’t sound way off.”
 
If anything, the number of illegals has actually declined in the last two years, he added.
 
“We estimate the illegal population has declined by more than a million and a half since August of 2007 – that was the peak,” Krikorian told CNSNews.com. “Our estimate was that there were 12.7 million, at that point. Earlier this year, we did an estimate that was under 11 million. So it’s a pretty significant drop, both in terms of new arrivals and illegal immigrants leaving.”
 
Illegal immigrants, meanwhile, are more likely to seek health-care at a hospital emergency room, according to both the CIS and the Pew Hispanic Center.
 
According to data compiled by the American Hospital Association, more than 118 million people were treated in emergency rooms in 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available and hospitals provided $31 billion in care for which no payment was made.
 
The Center for Immigration Studies, meanwhile, estimates that each year taxpayers – federal, state and local -- end up paying more than $4 billion each year on emergency room visits by illegal aliens.
 
“That does not include the costs the hospitals themselves will shift to paying customers, that’s one of the other ways that people pay,” Krikorian said.
 
“Emergency rooms have to take care of anyone who walks in -- federal law requires any emergency room to provide care for anybody, regardless of ability to pay or legal status. Hospitals have to jack up prices for paying customers to cover the deficit."

The Senate voted 60-38 on Saturday to clear the way for debate on the health-care bill to begin this week.