October 1, 2013 marks the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” This new law will affect millions of Americans across the nation, and will help some immigrants gain coverage, but those who are living in the country illegally will not have access to federal subsidies or insurance sold through new state-based exchanges.
For immigrants that benefit from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the new health law is expected to boost coverage, whether it be through private insurers or Medicaid, the state-federal health program offered to low-income residents.
Documented immigrants that earn more than the Medicaid limit will qualify for a federal subsidy to purchased coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace Exchange. The Marketplace is a new way to find health coverage and see if you qualify for lower costs based on your income, compare coverage options and prices, and enroll. Lawfully present immigrants will be eligible right away for those income-based subsidies to buy coverage. In the past there has been a waiting period of about 5 years for eligible immigrants to receive public health benefits, but through the new marketplace, the coverage takes effect immediately. All immigrants should be aware, however, that if they do not have coverage, they are subject to the same penalties as everyone else.
Undocumented adult immigrants will still be unable to participate in Medicaid or Medicare coverage. However, they will not face a penalty for not having insurance. Undocumented workers will not qualify for coverage, but they will still be legally permitted to use emergency rooms based on federal law.
Low-income workers who, previously were denies Medicaid because of their immigration status, can now qualify for emergency Medicaid for conditions such as heart attacks. Coverage for low-income women who are pregnant will still be available regardless of immigration status.
The ACA does not provide coverage or subsidies to undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., which reaches approximately 11 million people. They are also barred from using their own money to purchase insurance coverage through the exchange.
If you are in the country lawfully, but your parents are not, you would be eligible for coverage, but they would not. They will not be eligible for access to the new marketplaces, subsidies or any other coverage, even if they were paying for it themselves. They are also ineligible for public coverage options such as Medicaid, with some exceptions to emergencies.
Immigrant youth who came to the country as children and were recently granted deferred actions are also excluded from coverage.
Another change coming from the ACA is that the law requires that “linguistically appropriate services” be available to people who speak another language. Insurers, doctors and call centers will be expected to have some kind of plan in place for providing language services to patients who do not speak English.
Whether you are a documented or undocumented immigrant in the U.S., it is important to know your legal rights. Contact a Phoenix Immigration lawyer at Maria Jones Law Firm today.
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