The authors tabulated contributions from the Current Population Survey, data generated by the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, and expenditures from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. They then calculated net contributions (contributions minus expenditures) for immigrants, noncitizen immigrants, and native-born Americans for each year between 2002 and 2009.
The study found that immigrants generated surpluses of $11.1-17.2 billion per year between 2002 and 2009, resulting in a cumulative surplus of $115.2 billion to the fund that primarily pays hospitals and institutions under Medicare Part A. In 2009 the final year examined in this study, immigrants made 14.7 percent of Trust Fund contributions but accounted for only 7.9 percent of its expenditures--a net surplus of $13.8 billion to Medicare, the majority of which was attributable to noncitizen immigrants.
"Immigrants generate a surplus for Medicare primarily because so many of them are working age adults. That group has a high labor-force participation rate--a combination that generates large payroll tax payments," concluded the authors. "[E]conomic concerns--including the worry that immigrants are driving up US health care costs--have often dominated the debate over immigration. Our data offer a new perspective on these economic concerns.
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