It is essential to be aware of the issues that undocumented immigrants face each day, as they make up a large percentage of the United States population. According to Beck, Le, Henry-Okafor, and Shah (2016), about 4% of the U. S. population are undocumented immigrants, approximately 12 million individuals. One of the most challenging issues for them to deal with is access to health care, and the debate on it is incredibly vigorous. The proponents of the provision of health care for undocumented immigrants and its opponents have convincing arguments; thus, it is essential to consider both positions before making any conclusions. Nevertheless, the government must work diligently to alleviate the severe problem of illegal immigration, but depriving millions of people of access to health care is unreasonable but not effective. Despite undocumented immigrants living illegally in the United States, they are individuals who deserve high-quality health care.
It is essential to be aware of the current situation with the provision of health care for undocumented immigrants before considering arguments for and against it. In general, this group of the population faces numerous barriers to accessing health care. Hacker, Anies, Folb, and Zallman, (2015) note that many people have barred access to insurance by law, unauthorized parents avoid care for authorized children because of the need for documentation to get services, and discrimination and bureaucracy persist. However, some undocumented immigrants, such as children and pregnant women, get minor benefits. Besides, many federally funded health care centers provide services regardless of residency status, but their resources are limited. It is also essential to emphasize that many undocumented immigrants do not even try to access healthcare, as they fear being deported, lack financial resources and knowledge of the healthcare system, and have cultural stereotypes (Hacker et al., 2015). Numerous people suffer because of the problem of providing care for undocumented immigrants; thus, immediate action must be taken to improve the situation.
On the one hand, the opponents of the provision of health care for undocumented immigrants protest against the policies that offer any benefits and present their sound arguments. First, they highlight that undocumented immigrant living illegally in the United States, and it is irrational to treat them like ordinary citizens who pay taxes. Undoubtedly, it may appear unreasonable to concentrate on improving access to health care for people residing illegally instead of helping legal citizens who face numerous issues as well. However, it is vital to realize that the problem of providing care is not the cause of illegal immigration. In contrast, the former will persist unless the latter is not alleviated by wise decisions of the government and practical actions of various institutions. Hence, it is illogical to deprive undocumented immigrants who live in the United States of health rather than pay more attention to illegal immigration and work diligently to eliminate it.
Second, numerous individuals claim that it is cost-ineffective to provide health care services for undocumented immigrants. They are convinced that ordinary citizens should not pay for those who reside illegally, and the government should not spend money on them as well. Nevertheless, it is crucial to remember that most undocumented immigrants pay taxes, such as income and sales. Therefore, most of them have the same right to access high-quality health care, and people should consider the situation as a whole instead of not focusing on a small number of exceptions. Moreover, Beck et al. (2016) noted, “From a cost perspective, many undocumented immigrants will benefit from preventive care and early treatment of chronic diseases before they advance to life-threatening and costly complications” (p. 4). Hence, offering them such benefits as health screenings and vaccinations is likely to be cost-effective. Besides, it is relevant to mention in the time of pandemic that undocumented immigrants live among and interact with insured citizens and may contract infectious diseases. Therefore, it must be the government’s priority to keep everyone healthy, regardless of residency status.
On the other hand, many persuasive arguments are presented in support of providing health care for undocumented immigrants. For example, it is evident that public health aims to improve every individual’s health outcomes through organized efforts, and it is irrational to focus on one group of the population while ignoring another. An individual who needs access to care should have it, especially in one of the wealthiest and most developed countries in the world. Without any doubt, the fact that “federal law explicitly denies healthcare-related benefits to immigrants who are undocumented or who have not met residency requirements” is disturbing, as it denies all the principles of public health (Sher et al., 2017, p. 181). Besides, Beck et al. (2017) mention that “leading medical professional societies reaffirm the position that all individuals living in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, should have access to quality health care, including the opportunity to purchase insurance” (p. 4). Hence, undocumented immigrants need to have access to health care when taking into consideration public health issues.
Furthermore, one of the most compelling arguments for the provision of health care for undocumented immigrants concerns ethics. Undoubtedly, it is immoral to reject an individual who suffers from a health issue because of residency status. Most immigrants leave their countries because they have experienced violence, suffering, and injustice. Moreover, they often have low-paid and difficult jobs; thus, they lack resources to access health care on their own. For example, according to Sher et al. (2017), estimates suggest that about 6,500 undocumented patients with end-stage renal disease are ineligible for scheduled hemodialysis and require emergent dialysis. The arguments against providing care for undocumented immigrants are not sound enough to let these individuals die. In general, it is unreasonable to state that illegal residents must have the same benefits as ordinary citizens, though they should not be left alone, as most of the work and pay taxes like others.
In conclusion, both proponents and opponents of providing health care for undocumented immigrants have strong arguments to support their positions. However, the latter often avoids considering the situation as a whole. Unfortunately, the U. S immigration policies are controversial; thus, there are about 12 million illegal residents in the United States. It is irrational to ignore them, as many arguments concerning ethics, public health, finances, and the legal system prove that they deserve more attention. Rejecting those individuals to access health care is unreasonable and may lead to adverse consequences. In addition, it is challenging to approach the problem successfully, and it requires united and constant government efforts, along with different institutions and ordinary citizens. First of all, it is essential to alleviate the problem of illegal immigration. Indeed, increasing federal funds of health care centers, which provide care regardless of residency status, maybe the first step. Finally, implementing new policies, which are beneficial for both sides, will be effective.
Beck, T. L., Le, T. K., Henry-Okafor, Q., & Shah, M. K. (2017). Medical care for undocumented immigrants: National and international issues. Primary Care, 44(1), 1–13. Web.
Hacker, K., Anies, M., Folb, B. L., & Zallman, L. (2015). Barriers to health care for undocumented immigrants: A literature review. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 8, 175–183. Web.
Sher, S. J., Aftab, W., Moorthi, R. N., Moe, S. M., Weaver, C. S., Messina, F. C., Martinez-Hoover, N. M., Anderson, M. D., & Eadon, M. T. (2017). Healthcare outcomes in undocumented immigrants undergoing two emergency dialysis approaches. Clinical Nephrology, 8(10), 181–192. Web.