Tag Archives: immigration policy

US Immigration Policy and Healthcare

Sometimes we get on our high horse here and talk about real US Immigration policy issues and how it effects all US Immigrants on all types of US Visas as well as Green Card holders and sometimes even illegal immigrants.

Recently we discussed US immigration policy as it relates to Education policy and its relationship with the F1 Student Visa. Basically in short, how because of the short-sightedness and restrictions for growth for foreign students, the fact that 1 in 4 tech companies are started by Immigrants may soon shrink. Thus meaning innovation and economic growth may leave the US shores and go elsewhere.

Also we have talked about the ridiculous anti-immigrant policies like the H-1B restrictions considered by congress, and how political point playing and saving their own careers by blaming innocent parties are driving policy decisions at the top.

Both of these are actually somewhat related to our Healthcare and Immigration discussion. (We actually documented in an earlier post talking about the practicalities for the US Healthcare system for foreign workers and how to prepare yourself for differences to what you are used to back in your home land.)

The Healthcare Debate in the US

For many foreigners reading this and even current Immigrants in the US who may be under a rock somewhere, this has been the dominant news story in the US domestic new media for probably the last 6 months. It shows no signs of abating right now either with legislation being vigorously debated in Congress as we speak!

To give you a bit of background to the US Healthcare system behind all the hyperbole from both sides I will document the pros and cons below.

– Best medical facilities and access to widest range of highly skilled doctors and specialists in the world
– Extremely convenient access for majority to numerous pharmacies and medical locales
– For those with Health Insurance, generally very high standard of care
– For most people who have Health Insurance (about 80% of US population) vast majority of costs paid by their employer
– Has a Medicare program to cover a majority of health costs for senior citizens
– Has a Medicaid program run by the States to help cover costs for impoverished citizens

– Only rich, industrialized nation in the world not to have universal health coverage for all citizens
– Close to 50 million citizens have no health insurance and many more are under-insured meaning not enough coverage
– All this despite the fact the US Government spends more on health care per citizen than any nation in the world
– Out of control costs for employers and individuals meaning flow on effects to everything from much higher domestic flight costs on US airlines to the largest cause of foreclosures and bankruptcy for individual citizens
– Very much a disease care system with in my opinion a huge over prescription of medication
– Whole health system is profit based meaning of course, Pharmaceutical and Health Insurance make most money when keeping people sick/medicated and denying them coverage respectively
– US lags many both rich and poor nations in key indicators like infant mortality rate, overall health rating, etc.
– Concepts like “Pre-Existing Conditions” whereby you can be denied payment coverage from your Health Insurance company because you had this or related condition previously which doesn’t meet their criteria

So now that you have had a quick crash course in your US healthcare, let’s get on to the debate itself.

Essentially what is being debated at the moment in Congress, the Media and all around the country is;
1. How to Control Healthcare costs
2. How to make Healthcare affordable for all Citizens

Now how exactly to make this happen is what is caused all the heat and tension around the country with people on the left wanting a Universal Healthcare package proposed provided by the US Government and people on the right wanting to do things like give people tax credits and refunds as so they can buy it themselves. Then there are the majority in between who want some combination or portion of all this depending on their point of view.

The problem with the debate is that both political parties members, the Democrats and Republicans, all receive a lot of campaign contributions from the Healthcare industry and this clearly effects their viewpoints and definitely the way the legislation is written.

Healthcare and Immigration

Now how does this all relate to Immigration?
Well for both illegal immigrants and legal immigrants on work visas, nothing much is really changing as most of the Universal plans up for debate seem to only be accessible to US Citizens and Permanent Residents so you would still be relying on your Employer Health plan or whatever you may have bought yourself. You will still have to pay Medicare taxes from your salary and depending on what is passed, maybe others.

So what is so laughable about this whole process is that under US law no hospital can turn away someone who comes in for treatment. Therefore this clogs up US Emergency Rooms unnecessarily and actual ends up adding flow on costs to everyone via higher taxes and insurance costs.

One of the points of debate in all the plans proposed is whether particularly illegal immigrants (but to some degree legal immigrants on non-immigrant visas) should have access to the Government Universal Health plan or Health Market Exchanges that may be setup allowing people to by health insurance at more affordable amounts.

Because of how politically sensitive the Immigration issue is at the moment, particularly in light of all the Anti-Immigrant information and lies spread by Congress and the Media, that very few have the fortitude to make this available to all in the US. Even President Obama in his Healthcare address to the special joint sitting of Congress said this wouldn’t cover illegal immigrants.

Now back to the laughable part of all this. If this were open to illegal and legal immigrants and they then purchased health insurance via these options, this would lessen the strain on the US healthcare system, lower overall flow on costs to all US citizens and help the US economy as this money would go to companies who could then employ people!

This is why I am so pessimistic about Immigration reform which will probably be debated in the US Congress in 2010 as if this is the sentiment and prevailing wisdom during the healthcare debate where immigration is only a side focus, you can only imagine the viscous lies and lack of progress that will come in the future regarding Immigration

Like I said sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh!



US Immigration & Education Policy for Students on the F1 Visa

Silicon Valley, an area and name synonymous with innovation, dynamic and entrepreneurs at their finest. The best minds from ar0und the globe converging to create the ideas that are shaping the next 100 years of our collective futures.

An area situated just outside of San Francisco and surrounding the prestigious Stanford University whose alumni is a who’s who of the elite from the founders of Hewlett Packard of yesteryear to Sun Microsystems a decade ago to Google and Yahoo today and virtually everything in between. It is the Meca of our times!

Why is this the case?

Well it has a lot to do with the US Higher Education Institutions and system being the finest in the world. Universities like Harvard, Yale and of course Stanford have been the attracting these fine minds from around the world on the F1 Visa as students and studying for their Bachelors, Master and PhD qualifications under the expert tutelage of the world’s most dynamic professors. These students have long known if they work hard and achieve, they too had access to the American Dream of starting a company and making a fortune via work visas like the H1B visa or E3 visa and then later permanent residency and citizenship via a US Green Card.

What has since happened?

Well quite frankly politics has happened. Immigrants have been unfairly, unjustly and quite innaccurately blamed for US economic ills and US Immigration policy has resulted insituations where by things like an H1B Visa Lottery, H1B Visa Quota, Green Card Lottery, and general delays in the US Immigration system meaning some of the smartest minds in the globe have been forced to wait 10-15 years in the same role just so their Green Card application and thus permanent residency status can be processed successfully.

So this has resulted in what publications like Tech Crunch and esteemed academics from Harvard and Duke fame like Vivek Wadhwa have coined the US reverse brain drain. The ultimate result of which would see Silicon Valley now longer near the Bay area of California but in Bangalore, India or the southern provinces of China or even I am sure to the horror of many in the US who spew the vile anti-immigrant language, the Middle East.

1 in 4 tech companies in the US are started by Immigrants including beheamoths like Google, Yahoo and eBay so it doesn’t take Einstein (himself an immigrant to the US) to see the detrimental effect this has to the US worker and economy as a whole. Of course you rarely here that from politicians more interested in cheap sound bites and their next book deal than actual benefit for their country from educated decision making.

According to Tech Crunch “U.S. grad school admissions for would-be international students plummeted this year, according to the Council of Graduate Schools—the first decline in five years.  The decline was 3% on average, thanks to increases from China and the Middle East, but some countries saw double-digit declines in interest in a U.S. education. Applicants from India and South Korea fell 12% and 9% respectively—with students turning their sights on schools in Asia and Europe instead.”

The Bay Area Council, the Campaign for College Opportunity and IHELP showed that the US needs a 90% upswing in people graduating with degrees in science, technology, math or engineering to keep up with all the new jobs being created in that discipline. Essentially that what made Silicon Valley great may no longer exist and you may see this gradually shift elsewhere.

A majority of the world’s economic growth comes from India, China, Brazil, Eastern Europe and even Africa. Most of those countries have a much better social support structure than the US and certainly much cheaper costs for higher education from ever improving academic institutions. If an aspiring entrepreneur is serious evaluating choices for a great career and to be a global sucess in the next 20 years, the answer is increasingly NOT the US. Particularly when you consider ridiculous anti-immigrant policies like the H-1B restrictions considered by congress.

Make no mistake the US greatest threat to it’s own prosperity is itself and it’s own Economic, Immigration and Social policies like Education and Health.  Let’s all hope sensible, reasoned and rational decisions are made going forward because as it stands now we are looking at a bleak future ahead.