KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Illegal Immigrant Dialysis Proves Costly To Hospitals, System

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that dialysis care for illegal immigrants at a taxpayer-supported medical center costs $20 million a year and that the immigrants are being referred there from for-profit hospitals.

"Under federal law, anyone who shows up at an emergency room requesting an examination or treatment for a medical condition must be given an appropriate medical screening to determine whether there is an emergency. If there is, treatment must be provided regardless of a patient's ability to pay or their citizenship. … U.S. citizens with end stage renal disease automatically qualify for Medicare to cover dialysis costs. Illegal immigrants are not eligible for Medicare. As a result, patients who have neither insurance nor Medicare to pay for dialysis are almost exclusively illegal immigrants, a distinction that allows hospital officials to estimate costs for their care."

Each emergency dialysis visit is estimated to cost the University Medical Center - where the immigrants are getting care - $15,000, and officials say it is forcing them to lay workers off since they cannot recoup much of the expense (Harasim, 8/20). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.