Posts Tagged - ‘illegal immigrants’

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Arizona Immigration Law Puts Doctors In A Bind

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Image: Fibonacci Blue under CC 3.0

According to the Hippocratic Oath, doctors are tasked with treating all patients to the best of their ability, regardless of who they are–or their immigration status. Meanwhile, Arizona recently passed a controversial law that states, among other things, that anybody suspected of harboring an illegal immigrant can be charged a fine.

Some physicians are worried that this will affect their practice, adding yet another bureaucratic worry on top of dealing with health insurance providers and reimbursement. They speculate that they may be required to ask for passports before treating patients.

Moreover, it may shoot a hole through the trust essential to the doctor-patient relationship, because it interferes with confidentiality. Some health conditions may be related to living or working conditions related to being undocumented, but which patients will never reveal for fear of being deported. Illegal immigrants are already forbidden from participating in Arizona health insurance exchanges, or those from any other state. As a result, they may pay for treatment through cash or other means.

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Undocumented Immigrants Not Covered By Health Insurance Reform

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

(Image: Bearman2007 under CC 3.0)

Proponents of healthcare reform predict that the vast majority of Americans will be insured by 2019. However, several million people will still lack affordable health insurance. A large percentage of that group–about seven million–are undocumented immigrants.

Illegal immigration were a very controversial issue in the debate. They often receive expensive emergency care through hospital ERs. Community health centers, which had their funding increased in the legislation, will also treat them. However, their inclusion in the bill would result in both higher costs (and therefore more debt) and belief that it would encourage more people to come into the U.S. without proper documents. Some people believe that the safeguards against this group benefiting from the bill aren’t strong enough.

Both versions of the legislation, including the Senate version that ultimately passed, specifically forbid immigrants without documented residency or citizenship to participate in the newly created health insurance exchange markets. They will not receive subsidies to purchase a health insurance plan. (Such subsidies will be in the form of tax credits, and most illegal immigrants don’t file income taxes–although they do pay sales taxes and other expenses in the United States.) Undocumented immigrants won’t be able to use their own money to buy health coverage at the discounted rates available in that exchange market, either.

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