Under the health care law, immigrants who are in the country illegally are not eligible for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care coverage, and are not eligible to receive insurance subsidies. Qualifying immigration status includes Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), as well as asylees, victims of trafficking, applicants for status, and others. Healthcare.gov lists covered immigration status and required immigration documentation here.
Without submitting proof of legal immigration status, more than 200,000 people may lose their health care coverage. However, according to an article by the Houston Chronicle, language barriers, computer problems, and slow processing may be preventing these thousands of people from understanding that their coverage will end on September 30th.
The government mailed approximately 300,000 notices in English and Spanish to alert people that if their immigration and citizenship documents are not submitted by September 5th, they will lose coverage under the ACA. If people fail to respond to this latest notice, the health care exchange will also try and reach them by phone, by email, and is asking consumer assistance groups to get the message out.
An article from AZ Central highlights the effect of these notices more locally. Over 6,000 Arizona residents may be at risk of losing their health care coverage if they do not submit the required documentation demonstrating their immigration or citizenship status before the deadline. Pati Urias, Arizona spokeswoman for Enroll America says enrollment experts are attempting to reach out to people who may be impacted through Spanish-language media and community organizations.
According to some immigration advocates, one problem is that the notices are only offered in English and Spanish, and do not provide for the great number of other languages. Additionally, they say many of the people have provided documents, but paperwork was lost or not processed. Many of these people receiving health care cut-off notices may not know the importance of the situation, or they believe that they have already submitted the proper paperwork. Yet they continue to receive notices without confirmation of their status. Even for documents uploaded to healthcare.gov, individuals must call to verify they were received.
Government officials have indicated they need time to process the documents, but have not given a clear timeline for individuals to expect verification. Other complications arise when information provided for coverage does not match up against other federal government agency databases, which may not be timely updated, may contain naming inconsistencies, or even number errors.
Those who have submitted the documents but not yet received confirmation by the deadline will remain covered while their documentation is being verified, according to Health and Human Services spokesman Benjamin Wakana. However, those who do not submit the requested documents are at risk of losing coverage, and may even be liable for paying back part of the subsidized coverage they did receive.
If you have received a notice regarding health care coverage related to your immigration status or other legal matter, do not hesitate to contact my office and we can schedule an initial consultation.