By Steven Lopez, Manager, Health Policy Project, NCLR
More Latinos lack health insurance than any other group in the U.S., so it is crucial that they take the opportunity to obtain coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While significant improvements have been made to the enrollment process, some Latinos, particularly immigrants and mixed-status families, still face unique challenges.
Immigrants and mixed-status families have many questions about enrolling in health coverage under the ACA. Here are five things that they -- and those assisting them -- need to know:
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has said that the information people provide on their health applications is only used to verify eligibility under the ACA, not for immigration enforcement purposes.
- Signing up for insurance through the ACA, Medicaid, or Children's Health Insurance Program does not make someone a "public charge," a term used for people who depend primarily on the government for subsistence. The one exception is for people receiving long-term care in an institution at government expense.
- While those without an eligible immigration status cannot get coverage through the ACA, they can apply on behalf of their eligible dependents. For example, an undocumented parent can apply on behalf of an eligible child.
- Several immigration documents, such as a permanent resident card (or green card), a reentry permit, or an employment authorization card, can be used to verify immigration status on the health application.
- Free, in-person assistance is available to those applying and can be found by visiting www.localhelp.healthcare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.
Latinos still have an opportunity to get covered if they enroll by February 15, 2015. Under the ACA, 80 percent of applicants may be eligible for financial help to pay for health coverage, and 72 percent of services are offered free of cost, including mammograms, well-child visits, and diabetes screenings.