Advocates Urge Calif. To Expand Health Coverage to Undocumented
Citing a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey that found undocumented immigrants account for a large share of state's uninsured population, some advocates argue that California should expand health coverage to such individuals, the International Business Times reports (Whitman, International Business Times, 7/30).
The KFF study released last week found that more than two-thirds of all Californians who were uninsured before Affordable Care Act implementation now have coverage. Excluding the undocumented population ineligible for ACA coverage, about 75% of the previously uninsured Latinos now have some form of health insurance (Gorn, California Healthline, 7/31).
However, the survey found that 41% of uninsured Californians were undocumented immigrants.
Cost of Uninsured, Undocumented Immigrants
According to an estimate from Assembly member Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), emergency department care for undocumented immigrants costs the state $1.7 billion annually.
Bonta has said, "The [ED] is one of the most expensive points of health care delivery in the entire system. That's not efficient."
Reasons To Expand Coverage
According to research from the University of Southern California, undocumented immigrants:
- Contribute $130 billion annually in gross domestic product; and
- Make up nearly most 10% of the state's workforce.
However, undocumented immigrants are prohibited from obtaining health coverage through the ACA. Advocates say that violates the "spirit" of the law.
Daniel Zingale, senior vice president at the California Endowment, said, "Even more than most states, we depend on undocumented people for their work, their taxes and their contributions to our society," adding, "When undocumented people can't get access to basic preventative health, we all pay a price."
Claire Brindis, a professor and director of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at UC-San Francisco, said that while "California is very progressive around understanding that if we don't meet the primary care and [preventive] care needs of the undocumented, eventually a number of these chronic health conditions ... will be much more expensive to take care of," more still needs to be done (International Business Times, 7/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.