Making it illegal for illegal immigrants to buy health insurance in the U.S. as part of the health care bill is both inhumane and a waste of money. So naturally, some of your more suicidally conservative Democrats are eager to pander to racists on this issue, as if nutbars like Joe Wilson will ever consider voting for Democrats. But thanks to one of my hard-working tweeps who did the research so I didn’t have to, I’ve discovered the whole hand-wringing debacle over the fear that some illegal immigrant somewhere might buy health insurance is most likely moot anyway. We don’t have to cover illegal immigrants from Mexico. Why not? Because Mexico is already going to cover them.
Mexican migrants working in the United States may soon have their own affordable health insurance program. According to Mexico’s Health Department, it is launching a pilot program designed to encourage migrants who work in the states to sign up for the Mexican government’s Seguro Popular health insurance plan.
In 2003, Mexico set out to achieve universal health care, and from what I understand, they’re on track to reach their goal of doing so by 2012. They’ve done such a remarkable job because they have—you guessed it—a public option that everyone who has a job can buy into. (Except public sector workers, who are covered by a separate insurance system.) They also have a system of federally run clinics to administer to basic health care needs, regardless of employment status. It would be this public insurance that would reach out to migrant workers in the U.S. and encourage them to buy in. Of course, covering bills incurred by Mexican citizens who go to U.S. providers will be very expensive for Mexico, especially since they’ve kept internal health care costs so low. (About 1/3 of what the same procedures cost in the U.S.) Still, it’s both the humane and fair thing for Mexico to do, because migrant workers in the U.S. are good for the Mexican economy, putting billions of dollars into their economy every year. Unfortunately, the economic crisis in America has significantly reduced the average income levels of migrant workers in the U.S., which has impacted the remittance income tremendously. So the Mexican government is starting this pilot program even as immigration is making them less money.
That’s because they’ve embraced the concept of basic decency towards your fellow human beings. Would that Americans would do the same, especially considering how much illegal immigrants contribute to our economy.