Opinion

JOONDEPH: Trump Sensibly Denies Visas To Immigrants Lacking Health Insurance — To WaPo’s Chagrin

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America is reeling from the costs of uncompensated medical care, particularly care provided to those who lack insurance and who are unable to pay directly for the cost of their care. This includes immigrants, legal and otherwise.

Emergency care in the United States, when delivered to foreigners, is followed by a bill. Once they return home, there is little chance of collecting monies owed. This leaves physicians and hospitals eating the bill.

So it is sensible to require immigrants to either carry health insurance or to possess  the ability to pay for their care. No insurance should mean no visa.

The Trump administration instituted just that with a new rule issued this month. The Washington Post was displeased, writing:

The White House … issued a proclamation saying it would deny visas to immigrants who “will financially burden” the U.S. health-care system starting Nov. 3, demanding that foreign nationals prove that they have insurance or are affluent enough to cover their own health-care costs before entering the United States.

Notice the term “proclamation.” Did the Post label any of Obama’s myriad executive orders as “proclamations”? (RELATED: What’s Behind Biden’s Bloody Eye? Here Are A Few Possibilities)

The basis of Trump’s “proclamation” is existing law.

Trump invoked section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which grants the president authority to declare certain migrants ineligible for entry because it “would be contrary to the national interest” and “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

Trump is such a mean guy, putting kids in cages and now demanding that immigrants be financially self-sufficient. No other country treats immigrants so horribly. Or do they? Let’s look at a few popular countries, specifically at their official immigration websites.

New Zealand is a progressive and woke country. How do they handle immigrants and health insurance?

All applicants, except those who are applying under the Working Holiday Schemes with Ireland, Japan, Malaysia or the United Kingdom, are required to hold medical and comprehensive hospitalisation insurance that must remain in force throughout the applicant’s stay in New Zealand.

Note: You may be required to produce evidence that you hold health insurance before or on your arrival in New Zealand.

Across the Tasman Sea in Australia, they take a similar approach.

Some visas require you to provide evidence of adequate health insurance before we grant the visa.

We might ask you to provide a copy of a health insurance policy for you and any additional applicants applying for the visa with you. Check the requirements of the visa you are applying for.

What about those northern European countries that Bernie Sanders and other Democrats believe we should emulate? Do they require health insurance for visa applicants?

Sweden agrees with the Trump “proclamation.”

Visa applicants are required to have medical travel insurance. It must cover any costs that may be incurred in connection with emergency medical aid, urgent hospital treatment or transport to the country of origin for medical reasons or in the event of death.

So does Denmark.

Applicants must provide proof of travel medical insurance covering the full time of their intended visit. The insurance must be valid throughout the territory of the Member States. The minimum cover shall be EUR 30,000.

As does Germany.

A health insurance is recommended for every traveler – including visitors coming to Germany or Europe. Apart from the fact that travel health insurance is advisable for all trips, proof of health care coverage is needed in order to get a tourist visa for Germany or any other EU or Schengen country.

And Canada.

For International Experience Canada, you must have health insurance for the entire time you are in Canada.

You may be refused entry if you don’t have insurance. If your insurance policy is valid for less time than your expected stay in Canada, you may be issued a work permit that expires at the same time as your insurance.

Despite the Post’s consternation over President Trump’s “proclamation,” the rule change makes good sense.

According to the American Hospital Association, “Since 2000, hospitals of all types have provided more than $620 billion in uncompensated care to their patients.”

Unpaid medical bills have consequences, hurting physicians struggling under increasing overhead expenses and declining reimbursement, many choosing to retire rather than work at a loss. Hospitals are in similar dire straits providing uncompensated care, many unable to absorb the costs.

Nearly a quarter of rural hospitals are already on the brink of closure, increasing the burden on urban safety net hospitals.

Trump announced this two months ago, but perhaps The Washington Post missed it as its reporters were busy working with Democrats trying to impeach the president. On Aug. 12, the administration released a rule. It stated, “To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient.”

Unelected judges will certainly challenge the rule, but it’s doubtful any of them will step forward to pay the medical bills of immigrants without cash or insurance.

Ultimately, it’s the taxpayers getting stuck with the bills through higher insurance premiums and medical costs making up the shortfall. Unlike the bureaucratic establishment, President Trump is looking out for ordinary working Americans who always seem to get stuck picking up the tab.

Brian C. Joondeph (@RetinalDoctor), MD, MPS, is a Denver-based physician.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.