Another Myth Busted

by Al Miller. The Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) E-Newsletter of May 29, 2013 ( provided information for this article.

A new report challenges the longheld popular belief that immigrants are draining resources from the Medicare program. This report shows that documented and undocumented immigrants have paid about $14 billion more annually into Medicare than they have received in benefits.

“This afternoon [May 29th] the prestigious journal Health Affairs published a new study showing that immigrants, particularly noncitizen immigrants, are heavily subsidizing Medicare’s Trust Fund. The article is titled Immigrants contributed an estimated $115.2 billion more to the Medicare Trust Fund than they took out in 2002-09. A complete, online version of the study is available free from Health Affairs.”

Here is the Abstract of the report:

Many immigrants in the United States are working-age taxpayers; few are elderly beneficiaries of Medicare. This demographic profile suggests that immigrants may be disproportionately subsidizing the Medicare Trust Fund, which supports payments to hospitals and institutions under Medicare Part A. For immigrants and others, we tabulated Trust Fund contributions and withdrawals (that is, Trust Fund expenditures on their behalf) using multiple years of data from the Current Population Survey and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. In 2009 immigrants made 14.7 percent of Trust Fund contributions but accounted for only 7.9 percent of its expenditures—a net surplus of $13.8 billion. In contrast, US-born people generated a $30.9 billion deficit. Immigrants generated surpluses of $11.1–$17.2 billion per year between 2002 and 2009 (emphasis added), resulting in a cumulative surplus of $115.2 billion. Most of the surplus from immigrants was contributed by noncitizens and was a result of the high proportion of working-age taxpayers in this group. Policies that restrict immigration may deplete Medicare’s financial resources.

You can get a complete copy of this eight-page study at If you would like a copy, but do not have access to the Internet, contact Al Miller at 510-526-4874 and he will provide one to you.