Healthcare in the United States is considered one of the most expensive systems in the world. According to experts, these sky-rocket prices stem from administrative and drug costs. Every other government in developed countries negotiate drug prices, but the system in the U.S. is rather different. The ugly truth is that providers can demand any price they want.
At this point, about 10% of the American population doesn’t have medical insurance. As a consequence, these people don’t have access to healthcare. The number of uninsured people is more likely to grow in the next few years.
The latest survey showed that 79 million American citizens are struggling with medical debts. What can say immigrant families who constitute about 8 % of the total U.S. population? The recent data on immigrants’ access to health insurance shows that more than 40% of non-citizen immigrants are uninsured.
In case of a broken leg, an immigrant without insurance needs to pay around $8.000 on the spot. Spending three days in the hospital will cost up to $30,000. So, if something unfortunate will happen, every uninsured person will go bankrupt. For a lot of people, health care is a privilege.
A lot of hospitals help with setting up a payment plan. But who would like to spend years paying for their broken leg?
There are already thousands of people who can’t pay off their medical debts. So, how can immigrant families deal with their medical needs? Find out more about it here:
Obamacare for immigrants
Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, is a law focused on reforming American health care system. Basically, Obamacare is an unofficial name of the law since ACA was signed by Barack Obama in 2010. It was created with the aim of providing more Americans with access to healthcare. Also, former President Barack Obama wanted to improve the quality of healthcare, regulate the health insurance system and help to reduce healthcare costs in general.
Lawful immigrants (such as green holders) also can qualify for the program. The eligibility will depend on a few factors including income, age, number of dependents, and state of residence, and even geographical area.
Immigrants who have pre-existing medical conditions can’t be denied health coverage.
In 2018, all lawful immigrants were required to have health insurance. Otherwise, they were required to pay the fine (around $700 for an adult and $400 for a child).
However, these days there is no federal government’s impact. It’s up to every individual to decide whether they want to get health insurance or not.
At this point, undocumented immigrants or those who are incarcerated at the moment are not eligible for the healthcare program.
Health insurance for immigrants
According to HealthCare.gov, lawfully present immigrants in the United States are eligible for health coverage through the Insurance Marketplace. As stated on the website, the term ‘lawfully immigrants’ includes people who have their status without a waiting period, asylum applicants and those who have temporary protected or special juvenile status.
You should also know that the term ‘qualified non-citizen’ includes refugees, asylees, and members of the recognized Indian tribe.
In case, an immigrant applies for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) or Medicaid, it will not affect the chance of becoming an American citizen or lawful permanent resident. However, immigrants who have been getting long-term care government expense might experience some problems with getting a green card.
In 2019, Donald Trump has signed a proclamation that requires all immigrants to prove that they have American health insurance within a month of their arrival to the country.
If they don’t have medical insurance, they have to show the bank statements proving they have enough money to pay for their medical needs on their own. Needless to say, this policy puts too many spikes in the wheels of immigration.
The bottom line
According to the latest statistics, more and more people struggle with paying their medical debts. More than 10% of the American population doesn’t have access to health care at all. Immigrants can get health insurance only in case they are lawfully present in the country. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for getting any free medical help.
More than that, a lot of undocumented immigrants don’t even seek medical help due to the fear of being arrested and deported. The government hasn’t offered any specific solution for covering medical needs of undocumented immigrants.
Nonetheless, there is still some hope. Some States tend to expand Medicaid programs to help immigrants, regardless of their official status and abilities to pay.