California officials recently asked the Obama Administration to allow the state to implement a plan to offer health insurance to undocumented immigrants. The proposed plan operates under the terms of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). At present, undocumented immigrants are not allowed to access Obamacare, so the state of California is asking for an “innovation waiver” under a section of the ACA that allows states to create customized approaches for social services. If the plan pushes through, up to 30% of California’s 2 million undocumented immigrants could be eligible to buy into the state’s health insurance exchange.
California’s Move to Make Public Health Services Available to All
Through the proposed plan, California hopes to shift some of the burden of financing health coverage onto immigrants. The undocumented population has become so large in the U.S. that a number of county governments have already begun making health services available to anyone, regardless of immigration status. According to The Wall Street Journal, 20 out of the 25 counties with the biggest undocumented immigrant population offer public health services to all low-income residents. These services include lab tests, doctor visits and shots. Among the notable locales were California’s Riverside County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County and Orange County.
California’s decision to seek an innovation waiver passed the state legislature with bipartisan support. Even Republican Governor Jerry Brown signed off on the plan.
Health Insurance for Undocumented Immigrants Benefits State Residents
The state of California is home to around 25% of the entire country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. Just like all state residents, immigrants also get sick. Those who are sick often end up in the emergency rooms of public hospitals that are required by law to treat them, and the taxpayers end up covering the bill. It is estimated that ER visits by undocumented immigrants cost the state $1.7 billion annually.
The proposed plan would not cost state taxpayers anything. If it is implemented, undocumented immigrants would be paying the full costs of coverage under California’s health exchange. With more immigrants receiving preventative care and insurance, the state’s expenses would likely decrease.
Should the plan win approval from the Department of Treasury and the Department of Health and Human Services, California officials estimate that 17,000 undocumented immigrants would be able to participate in the first year. Immigrants enrolled in the program will benefit by gaining access to comprehensive health coverage, and the state also benefits by lowering costs, because immigrants tend to be healthier than other Americans.
If approved, this move by California officials will make it easier for foreign nationals in the country to have access to social services. If you want to know more about immigration plans, contact Lyttle Law Firm. Schedule a consultation with us by calling (512) 215-5225 today.