Providing accurate information to immigrants regarding the Affordable Care Act could prove challenging. It appears that rules for immigrants will vary significantly depending upon the immigrant's status.
The law will likely provide documented immigrants some of the same opportunities that other citizens will receive. This could include enrolling in health insurance plans listed on the state's health benefits exchange. However, as things currently stand undocumented immigrants will likely not receive coverage under the act.
It's important to understand the numbers of documented and undocumented immigrants living in California. One California County contains 117,000 residents who are not American citizens. It also appears that 68,000 of those immigrants remain undocumented.
Documented immigrants can receive assistance like Medi-Cal, even though they are required to wait five years to become eligible for Medicaid. To do so, however, certain residency and income requirements must be met. It appears that documented immigrants like green card holders or individuals with work or student visas may be able to apply for insurance on the exchange and also qualify for subsidies.
Families with mixed immigration status present complications when it comes to coverage. Documented immigrants in those families can apply for coverage while undocumented immigrants cannot. However, how much coverage the documented workers will receive is complicated by the fact that members of the family not considered to be here legally cannot be counted when it comes to the household size.
For those immigrants still unclear as to their options, they may wish to consult with an attorney experienced in litigating immigration laws. No one should assume that immigrants will be left with no options when it comes to health insurance coverage. However, many immigrants will need to be provided with other available options when it comes to them and their families.
Source: The Bakersfield Californian, "Immigrants face complicated rules under Obamacare," Rachel Cook, Oct. 12, 2013