$1 Billion: Cost of Illegal Alien Hospital Care in California

Published on July 28th, 2011

With the federal deficit for fiscal year 2011 projected to be $1.65 trillion, the largest in U.S. history (a number so large most people probably can’t even really conceptualize it), then perhaps $1 billion doesn’t sound like much money – to some people … a very few people … no one I know.

So what is $1 billion? Here in California, according to the California Hospital Association, it’s the cost of health care provided to illegal aliens at hospitals throughout the state. Actually, the CHA estimate is closer to $1.25 billion. But, what’s a quarter billion dollars here and there? Looking at all states, the cost of uncompensated emergency medical care may be as much as $7.5 billion, or more.

For more perspective on how these costs rack up, we just have to look at the numbers of illegal aliens living in the country. An estimated 2.6 million illegal aliens reside in California, and nationwide the total number may be anywhere from 10.8 to 30 million. Nearly 60 percent of illegal aliens didn’t have basic health insurance, according to a 2007 Pew Hispanic Center report.

It’s not a new story, but it’s certainly a story that hasn’t changed, except for the fact that costs continue to rise. It’s federal law that hospitals provide emergency care to any patient who comes to the emergency room. Of course this seems a strikingly reasonable and civilized law on the face of it. But, coupled with the laws we don’t enforce – and I’m specifically talking about immigration laws – it’s created one more unsustainable practice piled on to so many others in our continuing dystopic approach to life in these United States.

Besides unsustainable hospital "gimmes," as a society we’ve taken on many other huge costs by permitting mass unchecked illegal immigration of so many most-often impoverished people. One of the big ticket items is education which now includes free breakfasts and lunches – and sometimes dinner to go – because children can’t learn if they’re hungry.

Okay … now I just sound like an ogre, right? Well, that may come from growing up with the learned values of not borrowing, not asking for handouts and "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps." There was also my takeaway from Econ. 101 in college, TANSTAFL, or "There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch." These ideas all now appear to be quaintly anachronistic to more and more people as we’ve shifted to become a culture that strongly believes in entitlement.

But the reality is that the federal government is now borrowing about $0.40 – plus or minus a few cents – for every $1 it spends. If that’s not unsustainable, I don’t know what is. Obviously there are many contributors to the dire economic U.S. situation – and I’m most certainly not trying to pin all of them on the backs of illegal aliens – but there are huge, verifiable and unsustainable costs to illegal immigration totaling many billions of dollars.

On the positive side, I guess, if something can’t go on forever, it won’t. Clearly we can’t borrow like this indefinitely to support the FSA (see defn. #3 in the Urban Dictionary if you’re not familiar with this one). We could, theoretically, return to reason, move away from the debt-as-a-way-of-life and entitlement culture and start working again.

Alternatively, perhaps we can just push the system until it breaks. What might that look like?

Imagine a United States which has grown to 500 million people through continuing the same type of unchecked illegal immigration we’ve been allowing (also known as importing poverty), where the super majority of low wage earners and impoverished is kept somewhat in check (translation: there aren’t massive riots in the street) by vast giveaway programs addressing food, medical care and housing.

As the overall standard of living diminishes, a tipping point occurs when the middle class is obliterated and capital has flown to more productive locations elsewhere in the world. The system collapses. There’s no more government in any form we ever knew it, no more feeding at the trough and no more "free stuff." In other words, there are no more "bread and circuses" to keep the vast populace pacified.

Then it could get really interesting. The United States just becomes a crossroads for the world – a free-for-all, eat or be eaten landscape! The bar scene from the first "Star Wars" movie comes to mind …

But perhaps you think I digress … that couldn’t ever happen in America, with all of our exceptionalism. I must have slipped into a sci-fi mode. Really, what’s a billion dollars borrowed here or there, or a trillion?

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