Prove le­gal res­i­dence or lose Oba­macare cov­er­age

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Paul Demko

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

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