Illegal Immigration Healthcare Costs Affect YOU!


By Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D.

The national spotlight is on Arizona for doing what the Federal government and previous Governor Napolitano refused to do: rein in an invasion of illegal aliens bankrupting our state (Arizona).  At an August 2009 healthcare Town Hall in Phoenix, legislators said that more than half of Arizona’s 4 billion dollar budget deficit was the result of paying for three areas of services to illegal immigrants: education, healthcare, and incarceration. 

What does illegal immigration have to do with your costs and your access to medical care when you need it? 

Estimates are that 20-40% of uncompensated (“free”) medical services are provided to people in the US illegally.  The actual number may be much higher.  Shockingly, hospitals and clinics don’t ask about citizenship…a medical version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

In both Tucson and Dallas where I have practiced medicine, hospitals are struggling under massive costs of uncompensated medical services for uninsured people who, by federal law, cannot be turned away for lack of insurance or ability to pay. 

How much does this uncompensated care actually cost taxpayers?  The incredible answer: no one knows. 

We only have “estimates” of the costs to taxpayers to treat illegal immigrants because hospitals and public health clinics do not ask for proof of citizenship before providing care.  
What are consequences to taxpaying citizens?

1.    Increased cost and reduced access to trauma care. Tucson has lost all but one Level I Trauma Center to serve all of southern Arizona, in large part due to massive, unsustainable losses from uncompensated care.  Auto accidents involving overloaded vans of illegal aliens happen regularly in southern Arizona.  Injured are flown by air ambulance to University Medical Center’s Trauma Center and treated with state of the art care….all at taxpayer expense. 

2.    A registered nurse involved with the Pima County health system since the 1970’s who must remain anonymous because of her role, said she has never seen any staff member at either El Rio Clinic or Pima County Health Department ask for proof of citizenship before providing free medical services (immunizations, Well Baby checks, food stamps, WIC services, birth control, and even elective abortions).  Costs are paid by taxpayers. When funds are depleted, low income American citizens have fewer services and longer waits as a result. 

3.   This same RN also said: “I personally know Mexican men who married 16 year old girls, got them pregnant, brought them to Tucson for the baby to become a US citizen.  They live in Mexico but come here for their health care.  Taxpayers pay for this medical care many ways, at the Public Health Department, and with school nurses who provide care.”

4.    Uncompensated medical services for illegal immigrants mean higher premiums for all of us due to cost shifting among all third party payers. To cover the deficits from “free” medical services they  provide, the administration at University Physicians Health System Kino campus is analyzing how much to increase employee health insurance premiums as of July 1.

5.    Obamacare cuts benefits to American citizens: $500 billion in Medicare cuts and slashing the Medicare Advantage program.  Medicare Advantage, chosen by one in five seniors, is the most popular plan for low and moderate income seniors, and covers about half of our Hispanic or African-American elderly.  My patients on Medicare have worked and paid into the system over their working careers, yet these cuts mean less health­care available to them now. We certainly cannot afford to cover those here illegally. 

6.    Hospitals in Tucson and Dallas also provide uncompensated (“free”) maternity services to pregnant women here illegally.  Their babies then become US citizens entitled to all of the services available for low income American families – food stamps, WIC, immunizations, office visits, medications, etc. This drives up costs to all of us: higher premiums for private insurance companies, and higher taxes for government insurance like Arizona’s Medicaid (AHCCCS).

7.    Professional estimates are that over half of the pregnant women served at Parkland Hospital in Dallas are in this country illegally.  With over 16,000 deliveries a year, Parkland is one of the nation’s busiest maternity services with prenatal clinics for low income women to receive free prenatal care, nutrition, medication, birthing classes, child care classes, and free supplies (formula, diapers, bottles, car seats).  Taxpayers pay the bills.

How many of these women are legal citizens and how many are not?  No one knows.  No one asks about citizenship.

It is significant that the 4 states with the highest number of uninsured patients are the southern Border States that also have the highest burden of illegal immigrants: California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The bottom line is that working, taxpaying, legal citizens are bearing the brunt of the failure of our government officials to document citizenship before providing medical services.  

How long before your medical care is delayed or denied because our health systems have collapsed from deficits due to uncompensated medical care?

Arizona’s massive deficits, greatly increased by healthcare services for illegals, is the canary in the mine, warning of a potential explosion that may collapse the system for all.

It’s straight out of the Cloward-Piven playbook: destroy the system by overwhelming it. Your state – and your healthcare –may be next.

Elizabeth Lee Vliet, MD © 5-31-2010

See also “Health Reform by Cloward and Piven” by Dr. Richard Amerling:

Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D. is a women’s health specialist who received her M.D. degree and internship in Internal Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, then completed specialty training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  She received B.S. and M.Ed. degrees from The College of William and Mary in Virginia. Dr. Vliet is the 2007 recipient of The Voice of Women award from the Arizona Foundation for Women in recognition of her pioneering advocacy for the overlooked hormone connections in women’s health.  Dr. Vliet’s books include: It’s My Ovaries, Stupid!; Screaming To Be Heard: Hormonal Connections Women Suspect– And Doctors STILL  Ignore; Women, Weight and Hormones; The Savvy Woman’s Guide to PCOS.Dr. Vliet is a seasoned expert commentator and a passionate fighter against government takeover of health care in the proposed Health Care “Reform” that seeks to eliminate or penalize private options.  Dr. Vliet’s educational medical website is  Doctor Vliet has been speaking to the healthcare reform issue on many National TV and Cable Networks, including Stuart Varney, Neil Cavuto, Fox & Friends, as well as, many major syndicated radio shows. For more information on healthcare reform, Dr. Vliet suggests two patient advocate Web sites on healthcare:,


  1. Thank you for filling us in on all the real problems that Obamacare will push on everyone that has worked so hard to keep this nation free.

  2. we now first hand how bad the illegals effect costs and health care in tucson–the exgovner did not do her job and now the president only wants votes now matter the cost to the people who pay taxes and have worked our butts off for over 60 years–it must stop

  3. When I think of the 32 yrs I have worked & paid taxes & now when I’m ready to retire, my benefits are slashed- I feel violated by Congress.

  4. I see your point but I disagree with your emphasis on the source of the problem. Your anecdotal stories imply some sort of defect in Mexicans rather than the defect in the system that promotes welfare for all.

    You say, “Shockingly, hospitals and clinics don’t ask about citizenship…” Well, I cannot imagine a system where you go to the doctor and she says, “show me your papers and we’ll treat you”.

    I don’t ask about citizenship when patients come to me for service. It would be unethical. I don’t care. I’m a Physician and I treat people who are sick and who seek my help. Aren’t we obliged to treat those in need, regardless of creed, religion, color?

  5. Does any of the following ring a bell with you? Do you honestly believe what you wrote above is in sync with the following?

    I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
    I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
    I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
    I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
    I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.
    I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
    I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
    I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
    I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
    If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

  6. More tired old republican scare tactics. Don’t you think we remember the last round of threats and scares and things that go bump in the night, and don’t you think we remember the last set of lies that turned out to be, well, lies? Where are the “death panels?” Oops, just a scare tactic. We remember when we are lied to. You’ll see next election!

  7. The Obamacare law must be “changed”, repealled, or abolished what ever term works. We are a free nation with capitalism at our base and this is not a freedom, capital document. Too much cost, too much red tape, too much “give away”. Who will pay? “Its the economy stupid.”

  8. We must return to the “rule of law”, the Constitution, the state constitutions, and the laws passed by our representatives. But the Congress did not listen to the people about the Obamacare idea, see the poll figures and they and the president are still not listening. Representative government appears to be dead in the water unless the people go to the ballot box in Nov and vote em out.

  9. All States have to stand up, put in a Law like Arizona’s. Two years ago Oklahoma put in place its Immigration law, the illegals left this state by the thousands, it has helped our Economy and employment. It has not been pushed as much as I wish to see, but it has helped. We have states setting back right now, wanting to see how its going to work for Arizona. I know, it would help if, the 20 some states that are thinking about putting in a Law much like Arizona, would just do it, they would all find the safety in numbers. The American dream has been going south for years, we have to take our country back. For each family of illegals, that move out, it helps more then anyone thinks it will. First Americans get the jobs back, then 4 to 6 go off welfare, off health care, off food stamps, out of the school systems. Less gas will be used with 13,000,000 less people. Things we would never think about will start coming up. Yes there is some down sides but it will work out very fast, it did in Oklahoma. It will also be nice to pick up the phone and not hear push 1 for Spanish.

  10. You failed to mention the fact that Americans who are given “free” medical services are tracked and harrassed for the rest of their lives while the illegals enjoy their lives with complete anonymity and total contentment. When that American dies having been unable to pay the bill, the state will take their children’s inheritance while the illegal leaves his life’s accumulations – house, car, money, whatever – to whomever they wish. Once you, a tax paying American with no insurance, are involved in a bad accident, you will work for the state for the rest of your life and your children will be forgotten.

  11. BTW… This was the case LONG before “Obamacare”. The Republicans had more to do with the situation than Obama or any other Democrat.

  12. It amazes me that when people say tax payers, immigrants are not included. Legal and illegal immigrants both pay state and federal taxes. None, collect on Social Security in any form or alot of the federally funded health programs. In 2002, it was reported that illegal immigrants paid into the federal government $16 billion. Only $4.3 billion was used on illegal immigrants to cover their costs of medicaid and emergency services. So they are paying their bills. As of 2009, there were 36 million uninsured AMERICANs. The bill from tax payers for them were, $68.5 billion . It’s not because the illegal immigrant is using the emergency rooms, it’s because the Americans are using the emergency rooms. 34.9 billion of the uninsured Americans make $50,000- over 75,000 a year. There’s a problem, but it’s not what they keep telling us. Wall street wants their insurance companies making lots of money, so they have to raise the premiums to get the job done. And there are alot of other reasons. The information is available to whom ever wants the truth.