Minorities and the Health Care System

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Introduction

The overall health and quality of life has improved for most Americans over the past few decades. However, good health is usually associated with an individual’s economic status, demographics, and ethnicity. It should be no surprise that minorities in the United States receive unequal treatment from the healthcare system. On the contrary, it is well known that many illegal immigrants are able to obtain free medical services as soon as they enter this country. This essay will analyze the many disparities in the healthcare system and strategies for making improvements. Illegal Immigrants and Free Healthcare

Many illegal aliens cross the border in hopes of receiving free healthcare. The reason why illegal immigrants receive free healthcare is because of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act that was approved in 1986. This act requires hospitals to treat patients regardless of their citizenship status. Although this seems very unfair to the American taxpayer, this country would look barbaric if it allowed humans to die only because they were not citizens. Many Americans would agree that there is no other option but to provide healthcare to anyone that is suffering from a medical emergency. The fact that illegal immigration causes health risks to U.S. citizens is often ignored. Many people that enter the United States illegally come from countries that have contagious diseases that are rarely seen in this country. There have been many reported cases of dysentery, leprosy, and tuberculosis near the U.S. and Mexico border. An “article in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that a majority (57.8%) of all new cases of tuberculosis in the United States in 2007 were diagnosed in foreign born persons” (Federation, par.4). This illegal minority group is a potential danger to the healthcare of America citizens. The cost of paying for healthcare of illegal immigrants puts a huge strain on the economy. These medical costs can put hospitals out of business, and the bills are transferred over to the American taxpayers. “The estimated cost of unreimbursed medical care in California was about $1.4 billion a year. In Texas, the estimated cost was about $.85 billion, and in Arizona the comparable estimate was $.4 billion per year” (Federation, par. 9). This debt increases the cost of healthcare for all U.S. citizens. The issue of free healthcare for illegal aliens is an ongoing political debate. Mitt Romney, a current Republican presidential candidate, is under fire for signing in a program that helped illegal immigrants obtain free healthcare. This program is called the Health Safety Net, and was signed in when Romney was governor of Massachusetts in 2006. This program was popular because it also helped low-income families and minorities in the state of Massachusetts. “But now it could prove problematic for the Republican presidential hopeful, who has been attacking Texas Governor Rick Perry for sponsoring undocumented immigrants in Texas” (Reske, par. 3). The national debate is whether or not illegal immigrants should be allowed to have any government aid at all. In addition, the Obama healthcare plan is designed to not give undocumented immigrants free healthcare. The plan stresses that immigration reform is needed to help reduce the debt caused buy medical services. “He also staked out a position that anyone in the country legally should be covered – a major break with the 1996 welfare reform bill, which limited most federal public assistance programs only to citizens and longtime immigrants” (Dinan, par. 2). In general, the future of healthcare for illegal immigrants is unknown. With the developing immigration and healthcare reforms, many changes will be seen with the benefits undocumented immigrants can receive. In particular, Latin Americans have been accused of exploiting their children by crossing the border and giving...
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