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Immigrants contribute more to Medicare than they take out

May 30, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Working-age immigrant taxpayers paid $13.8 billion to the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund in 2009, while drawing less from that fund than native-born elderly Americans, notes a new study in Health Affairs. The fund is mostly supported by payroll taxes and pays for Medicare Part A hospital benefits, skilled nursing facilities and other services for the aging and disabled.

The study, conducted by professors from Harvard Medical School and the City University of New York, used data from the 2009 census and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to find that from 2002–2009, immigrants contributed $112 billion surplus to the fund, while American-born elderly depleted that fund by $28.1 billion.

“But economic concerns—including worry that immigrants are driving up U.S. healthcare costs—have often dominated the debate over immigration,” the study authors said in a Washington Post article. “Our data offer a new perspective on the economic concerns.”

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