Covered California: 98K Enrollees Still Must Verify Immigration Status
About 98,000 California residents who purchased health insurance through Covered California have failed to verify their lawful presence in the U.S., even after being contacted by the health insurance exchange, according to an announcement Thursday, U-T San Diego reports.
The residents could lose their health coverage if they fail to verify their immigration status by Sept. 30 (Sisson, U-T San Diego, 9/4).
In July, HHS' Office of Inspector General released a report finding that the federal government and Covered California failed to properly verify eligibility for exchange enrollees, including by not always confirming U.S. citizenship.
Last month, CMS sent letters to about 310,000 U.S. residents who enrolled in coverage through the federal insurance exchange warning that if they do no submit documents to verify their citizenship or immigration statuses by Sept. 5, they could lose the coverage they purchased through the federal health insurance exchange.
The move did not affect state-run exchanges. However, Covered California officials later said the state's insurance exchange would follow the federal government's example and require about 100,000 enrollees to verify their lawful presence in the country in order to retain health insurance they obtained through the marketplace.
Information or documents that can be used to verify legal presence could include:
- Certificates of naturalization;
- Permanent residence cards;
- Social Security cards; and
- Other documents.
The documents can be uploaded through the exchange website or submitted to an enrollment counselor or insurance agent (California Healthline, 8/22).
Details of Verification Efforts in Calif.
Covered California spokesperson James Scullary said that about 92,000 individuals who purchased a health plan through the exchange failed to respond to an initial request to clarify their immigration status.
In addition, Scullary said about 6,000 individuals who did respond provided incomplete information.
He said, "We have provided some time because we wanted to make sure that everyone gets covered, but we have to move forward and get these cases cleaned up" (U-T San Diego, 9/4).
The exchange this week will begin mailing notices to affected individuals, asking for clarification about their immigration status.
Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said the exchange will implement "a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to notify individuals who risk losing coverage." Lee said the exchange will be forced to cancel the health plans of anyone who fails to verify his or her immigration status, adding, "If you have received tax credits, and your health insurance is canceled, you may have to repay those tax credits. If your health insurance is canceled, you may also have to pay a tax penalty" (Covered California release, 9/4).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.