New Stats Show the Impact of Immigrants on America's Health Care System


As immigration lawyers who work extensively with health care professionals, we took notice of updated statistics by the New American Economy Research Fund on immigrants in the health care field. New American Economy released its initial findings in April 2020, then updated them this month to see how COVID-19 impacted the employment of immigrants. Some findings lined up with what we’ve seen anecdotally.

Immigrants play a significant role in the health care industry. They make up 16.5 percent of the health care work force, and they break down by occupation as follows:

  • - home health aides - 36.5 percent
  • - psychiatrists - 32 percent
  • - physicians - 28.7 percent
  • - personal care aides - 25.1 percent
  • - nursing assistants - 22 percent
  • - surgeons - 19.7 percent
  • - registered nurses - 15.7 percent
  • - respiratory therapists - 13.6 percent

Immigrant women are particularly important in the home health care field. They make up

  • - 1 in 5 nursing, psychiatry, and home health aides 
  • - 1 in 5 personal care aides
  • - 1 in 8 registered nurses

Since part of the study’s purpose was to see the effects of COVID-19, the study also looked at the medical supply field and found that 24.8 percent of the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing work force is immigrant, as is 23.9 percent of those making medical equipment and supplies. 

Those who demonize immigrants do so by portraying them as drains on our society, but these statistics reinforce the truth that we see daily in our practice. Immigrants contribute meaningfully and in highly skilled ways to our economy and society.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that in the context of health care, they are integral to our system, which could not function without their support.

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

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