The intersection of healthcare and immigration is a critical issue that requires attention. Continue reading for a comprehensive analysis of health coverage for immigrants based on the data from the 2023 KFF/LA Times Survey of Immigrants.
Disparities in Health Coverage
As per the survey, noncitizen immigrants, especially those likely undocumented, have higher uninsured rates compared to citizens. Approximately 50% of likely undocumented immigrant adults and 18% of lawfully present immigrant adults reported being uninsured. In contrast, only 6% of naturalized citizens and 8% of U.S.-born citizens were uninsured.
These discrepancies in health coverage underscore the disparities that exist based on immigration status. Noncitizen immigrants are more likely to not have a usual source of care, not have a doctor's visit in the past year, and skip or postpone care due to limited access to private coverage and eligibility restrictions for federally funded coverage options.
Barriers to Healthcare Access
Eligibility restrictions for Medicaid, CHIP, ACA Marketplace coverage, and Medicare pose significant barriers to healthcare access for noncitizen immigrants. Furthermore, immigrants have lower healthcare expenditures compared to U.S.-born counterparts due to their limited access and use of healthcare services. However, their out-of-pocket payments are often higher due to higher uninsured rates.
Fear, confusion about eligibility rules, language and literacy challenges, and concerns about immigration-related consequences contribute to enrollment barriers for eligible immigrants.
State-Level Coverage Expansions
To address the gaps in health coverage for immigrants, state-level coverage expansions have been implemented. Some states have extended Medicaid and CHIP coverage to lawfully present immigrant children and pregnant individuals. A few states have also expanded fully state-funded coverage to certain groups of low-income individuals, regardless of immigration status.
However, despite these coverage expansions, many immigrants, particularly those who are undocumented, remain ineligible for any coverage options.
Efforts to Increase Enrollment
The Biden Administration has made efforts to reduce fears and increase enrollment in health coverage among immigrant families. Changes to public charge policies have been reversed, and funding for Navigator programs that provide enrollment assistance has been increased.
However, confusion remains among immigrants about the impact of non-cash assistance programs on their immigration status, indicating a need for more clarity and communication about such policies.
The data from the KFF/LA Times Survey of Immigrants brings to light the disparities in health coverage and access to healthcare among immigrants based on their immigration status. While some states have expanded coverage options, many immigrants, especially those who are undocumented, remain uninsured and face barriers to accessing healthcare.
Efforts to increase enrollment and reduce fears among immigrant families are ongoing, but further actions are needed to ensure equitable access to healthcare for all immigrants. Policymakers, healthcare providers, and community organizations must work together to address these challenges and build a more inclusive healthcare system.
Smith Law Offices, LLC has extensive experience with a variety of immigration matters from deportation to citizenship. Our attorneys can advocate for you and your loved ones. Contact us today to learn more.