Medicare gets more from immigrants than it gives

Medicare has been given billions more dollars by immigrants in recent times than they have received from the program, a new study claims, appearing to squash the fear that immigrants are a drain when it comes to federal health care spending.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School led the study, which measured the contribution to the trust fund part of Medicare that accounts for nearly 50% of the program’s revenue.  It discovered that immigrants were responsible for the generation of surpluses that total $115 billion between the years 2002 and 2009.  In comparison, the population that was born in the United States was responsible for a deficit of $28 billion over the course of the same time period.

The findings shine a light on something that has long been recognized by demographers – that immigrants are vital for balancing out the age structure of society in the United States and provide an infusion of working-age adults who are able to support the nation’s ageing population and help to cover the costs of Social Security and Medicare.  With the baby boomers, the United States’ largest generation, now beginning to edge into retirement, the financial assistance given by immigrants has never been more necessary, according to experts.

“There’s this strong belief that immigrants are takers,” notes the Director of George Washington University’s Center for Health Policy Research, Leighton Ku.  “This shows they are contributing hugely.  Without immigrants, the Medicare trust fund would be in trouble sooner.”