Hundreds of thousands of immigrants who purchased health insurance through the Affordable Care Act stand to lose their coverage this month if they do not submit required paperwork proving their legal status. However, communications about this issue have been hindered, largely because of language barriers and technological woes. Even though the federal government sent out letters to attempt to notify those with immigration concerns, it appears that more than 200,000 immigrants stand to lose their coverage if they fail to comply.
Advocates say that about 1 million people who signed up online for coverage through the ACA were required to submit proof of their immigration status. About 700,000 of those have been approved for the insurance coverage so far. Government representatives say that they have not received many requests for assistance in filling out the required paperwork, but that may not reflect the true situation -- many immigrants may not know that their policies are about to be terminated.
Attorneys in Texas and Florida, the two top regions of concern, say that many of their clients have already sent in the required documents. In fact, some lawyers say their clients have certified mail receipts showing that the federal government received their documentation -- but it appears that the feds simply have not yet processed the requests. Further, many immigrants are having difficulty with the fact that communication about the impending changes were only distributed in English and Spanish -- many immigrants are not fluent in either language.
Access to the ACA is an important component of current U.S. immigration law. Everyone who legally resides in the United States should have access to affordable health care. That includes immigrants. Attorneys may be able to step in where the federal government has failed, providing their immigration clients with additional information about retaining their health care coverage through this federal failure.
Source: The Brownsville Herald, "Problems abound with health law immigration papers" The Associated Press, Sep. 02, 2014