Blue Cross of California Encouraging Mexican Nationals To Use Mexican Identification Cards for Health Insurance Applications
Blue Cross of California officials on Wednesday visited North County Health Services in San Marcos as part of a statewide effort to encourage Mexican citizens living in California to apply for health insurance using a matricula consular -- an identification card issued by the Mexican General Consulate -- the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Gaona, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/8). The matricula consular, which lists the name and address of the cardholder and includes a photo, has been accepted for identification purposes by banks and police agencies in the United States for more than a year. Health Net of California also allows the use of the matricula consular to apply for health insurance (California Healthline, 4/16). Acceptance of the matricula consular is intended to encourage Mexican citizens to apply for private health insurance regardless of whether they have Social Security numbers. Blue Cross has held similar outreach meetings in Los Angeles and Fresno and plans to hold future gatherings in San Jose and Sacramento. Company spokesperson Michael Chee said that expanded health coverage among Mexican citizens would help them obtain regular medical care, rather than only emergency department services, the Union-Tribune reports. Chee added, "This is not an immigration issue. This is an uninsured issue."
Chee said that a typical Blue Cross plan for an individual costs about $100 per month, although plans can range from $28 to $130 monthly for a healthy 30-year-old. However, "[m]any of the poorest working families qualify for programs such as Healthy Families that can cost just a few dollars a month," the Union-Tribune reports. Chee said that Blue Cross is not seeking to enroll families with annual incomes less than the federal poverty level (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/8). The insurer primarily is targeting individuals in families with annual incomes of $50,000 or more, who comprise about two-thirds of the state's 6.2 million uninsured residents(California Healthline, 4/16). According to the Union-Tribune, the number of undocumented Mexican immigrants in that income bracket is not known, and "their response so far appears to be lukewarm to the insurance products." Chee said that to date fewer than 1,000 people have signed up with Blue Cross using the cards.
Gerry Gonzalez, director of the National Latino Research Center at California State University-San Marcos, said that in addition to cost concerns, immigrants might not want to use the cards to apply for health insurance because they are concerned the information might be used against them. However, Irma Corta, director of the North County Health Services Community Clinic, said that acceptance of the cards could help address cultural barriers that discourage some immigrants from purchasing health insurance, the Union-Tribune reports (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/8).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.