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Journal article

Immigrants Contributed An Estimated $115.2 Billion More To The Medicare Trust Fund Than They Took Out In 2002–09

Date

2013-06-01

Authors

Leah Zallman, Steffie Woolhandler, David Himmelstein, David Bor, and Danny McCormick

Abstract

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, 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.

Journal title

Health Affairs

Volume

32

Issue

6

Page numbers

1153-1160

Links

Economic sectors

General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Statistics on work and life conditions

Target groups

Public awareness, Researchers, Unions, and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Geographical focuses

United States and Regional relevance

Spheres of activity

Health sciences, Political science, and Demography

Languages

English