October 24, 2016
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How Health Care Reform Affects Immigrants


El Diario/La Prensa, News Report, Annie Correal, Translated by Elena Shore, 

NEW YORK -- Depending on your immigration status, here’s how health care reform will affect you:

Fifteen to 20 million people will remain uninsured under the health care reform bill, the majority of them undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants will not be required to buy insurance or pay a fine of $750, a requirement that applies to the rest of the U.S. population. Certain groups will also be exempt for religious or ethnic reasons, such as American Indians.

Undocumented immigrants will not benefit from the expansion of Medicaid benefits or from government subsidies created to help citizens and residents to buy private health insurance in the exchange program.

Private insurance companies that receive subsidies will not be able to sell insurance in the exchange program to undocumented immigrants who want to buy a plan with their money. It is possible that these companies will continue to offer coverage outside of the exchange, but it is unlikely that prices for these plans will be affordable for undocumented immigrants.

Immigrants who have papers – legal residents and naturalized citizens – in New York will see an immediate benefit from the reform. They will be required to have health insurance or pay a fine of $750, but they will benefit from the new requirement for employers to provide health insurance for their workers. They will also benefit from the expansion of Medicaid and government subsidies to get health coverage through the exchange. Single people will qualify for the benefits if they earn less than $43,000 a year. A family of four will qualify if they earn less than $88,000 per year.

Another good thing: Health care reform will not end the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the federal program that helps millions of parents buy insurance for their children at low cost.

However, one disadvantage is that legal residents in most states will be will not be able to access Medicaid or other state benefits until they reach five years of residence (although they will have access to government subsidies immediately). With the reform, they would be penalized for not having health insurance. 


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