Documented Immigrants Face Issues Buying Exchange Coverage
Documented immigrants eligible to purchase health coverage through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges are experiencing trouble with HealthCare.gov, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Referred to as the "green card glitch," the federal exchange website offers no obvious way for documented immigrants to upload the government identification documents proving their legal status. Advocates say the site offers a "limited list of documents" such individuals can upload, but that list does not include green cards. However, the site does allow for documented immigrants to enter their green card numbers.
Although some applicants have been told to mail copies of their green cards to HHS, many are hesitant to do so because of reports of such documentation being lost. Others have uploaded the documents under incorrect titles, hoping officials will take notice of the discrepancy. Advocates have called for the list to be updated.
CMS spokesperson Aaron Albright said officials are working to update the list. He added, "We are working to make it clear that consumers with any type of immigration issue can upload any form that is requested, including a copy of their green card" (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/19).
Undocumented Immigrants Remain Uninsured Under ACA
In related news, undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are nearly twice as likely as U.S. citizens to have not seen a physician within the past year, likely because they remain uninsured and do not qualify for coverage under the ACA, Modern Healthcare reports.
According to a UC-Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research study, the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who are uninsured is likely to remain mostly the same over the next few years. About 61% of such individuals were uninsured in 2012, and that rate is expected to increase to 61.5% in 2016.
However, the percentage of undocumented immigrants within the overall uninsured rate is expected to increase significantly. For example, if Medicaid coverage is expanded under the ACA in all areas of the country, the percentage of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.' uninsured population would go from 9.5% in 2012 to 24.5% in 2016, according to the study (Landen, Modern Healthcare, 11/19).
Undocumented Immigrants Will Not Gain ACA Coverage Under Executive Action
Meanwhile, President Obama on Thursday is expected to announce a plan that would allow up to five million undocumented immigrants who have resided in the U.S. for at least five years to apply for a program to avoid deportation, but the plan will not allow them to qualify for health benefits under the ACA, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, the plan's limits on health coverage for the individuals go against the kind of action activists had hoped to see. Advocates said that while the plan would help undocumented immigrants to become members of U.S. society, it would also block them out of a health care system that would help them be productive members of that society. National Immigration Law Center health policy analyst Angel Padilla said, "We would all benefit if more people had access to health care services" (Shear/Pear, New York Times, 11/19).
Providing health benefits to undocumented immigrants has long been a "lightning rod" in the partisan back-and-forth over the ACA, according to the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" (Millman/Eilperin, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 11/19).
For example, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has said Obama "has no authority to grant lawful status to those declared unlawful by the duly passed laws of the United States. Nor does the president have any authority to declare such individuals eligible to receive health benefits that have been restricted to lawful residents" (New York Times, 11/19).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.