By Lauren E. BaughmanPosted March 07, 2018 12:05:01For many immigrants, the Affordable Care Act was their first chance to get affordable coverage in the United States.
But for others, like immigrant mothers in rural Pennsylvania, the cost of health care is too high.
A study published by the University of Pennsylvania found that immigrants with health insurance who don’t live in the Philadelphia area pay more than twice as much in out-of-pocket medical expenses as their white counterparts.
“We found that in a typical immigrant household, the immigrant immigrant was the one with the highest out-pocket health costs,” Dr. Daniel Cramer, lead author of the study, said.
“The immigrant’s health care costs were higher than the other immigrant households.”
Dr. Cramer said that while the study only included immigrants who are insured, his research also found that the immigrant is a higher risk of being covered by their insurance company, which means he or she may not be aware of other insurance options.
For immigrants with incomes above $30,000, the gap in out of pocket costs is even greater.
In the Philadelphia metro area, for instance, the average cost of medical care is $6,828.
The study is the first to show a clear disparity in costs between immigrant and non-immigrant households.
The study found that for immigrants with high incomes, the out- of pocket medical bills were more than triple those of their white and black counterparts.
For the average immigrant household with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 in Philadelphia, the family had a total out-ofthe-pocket cost of $16,827, compared to an average immigrant with incomes of $26,936.
The findings echo similar findings from a similar study conducted in the Midwest in 2014.
Researchers found that out-OF-pocket costs for immigrants were nearly double that of their non-immigrants, as compared to a comparable group of non-Hispanic white Americans.
In a separate report published last year, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that immigrant families in the U.S. pay more for health care than white Americans with the same income.
The analysis showed that for immigrant families with incomes under $75,000 per year, immigrant health costs are twice that of white Americans in comparison to white Americans at higher income levels.
The results from the new study also point to an urgent need for immigrants to purchase health insurance coverage, and more broadly for immigrant health insurers to take on more affordable and innovative offerings.
“There’s a real need for the insurers to start offering these innovative services, to develop better options for immigrants, and also to start covering immigrants more broadly,” said Dr. Cramer.
Dr. Dora Cramer is an associate professor of family medicine at Penn Health and co-director of the Penn Health Health Institute for Health Policy Research.
The Penn Health Institute focuses on health outcomes, including health-related outcomes for immigrants.