Equal coverage for undocumented immigrants makes economic sense. However, uninsured undocumented adults have significantly lower rates of emergency room visits and fewer doctor visits than uninsured Americans. A study of Medicaid emergency room spending for undocumented and recent immigrants in North Carolina between 2001 and 2004 found that more than 82 percent of health care spending was related to childbirth and pregnancy complications.
In 1986, Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals to provide services for active labor and emergency care regardless of insurance and immigration status. In 1986, Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals to provide services for emergency care and active labor and delivery, regardless of insurance and immigration status. By delaying needed care, undocumented individuals face serious and more costly long-term health conditions. Some of the cost would be offset by existing resources currently allocated to care for undocumented immigrants.
Can undocumented immigrants receive emergency Medicaid?
Emergency Medicaid covers “a medical condition (including emergency delivery) that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably result in (A) placing the patient’s health in serious jeopardy, (B) serious impairment of bodily functions, or (C) serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part. Some immigrants have expressed concern about even leaving home due to threats of increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity in their communities. Some lawfully present individuals are not eligible for Medicaid because of their immigration status (such as some people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or people with lawful permanent resident status who have had that status for less than five years), and undocumented individuals who are not eligible for Medicaid because of their immigration status. If these policies encourage segments of the immigrant population to avoid health care, they will create pockets of infection that will be difficult to eradicate.