Prove legal residence or lose Obamacare coverage
More than 300,000 people could lose their exchange plan coverage this month if they don’t send the CMS additional documentation proving their citizenship or legal immigration status by Sept. 5.
Immigrant advocates say many of these people who obtained coverage through HealthCare.gov have tried to send the information but have been stymied by technical problems and language barriers.
The applications flagged by the CMS for extra documentation are only from residents in the 34 states that relied on HealthCare.gov for enrollment. It’s uncertain how many people who enrolled through staterun exchanges have similar issues. Covered California has indicated that it has roughly 100,000 applications that require more documentation to establish legal residence status.
Undocumented immigrants are prohibited from purchasing coverage through the Obamacare exchanges, while naturalized U.S. citizens and legal immigrants are eligible.
Amy Jones, of the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition in Philadelphia, said clients are encountering language barriers because most of the letters sent out by the CMS are in English, and many of the group’s clients aren’t computer-savvy. “People do not know what (the letters) say or that they are important,” Jones said. “Many have been putting them aside or throwing them away.”
The CMS says that it is sending letters requesting the documentation in English and Spanish to people who have not responded to multiple attempts to contact them by mail, phone and e-mail, and that it will try three more times before the Sept. 5 deadline. After that, a letter will be sent saying coverage will be canceled Sept. 30.
“Many have been putting (the letters) aside or throwing them away.” AMY JONES, SOUTHEAST ASIAN MUTUAL ASSISTANCE ASSOCIATIONS COALITION