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How does the health law affect immigrants who aren't U.S. citizens?

Patricia Borns photo

Health coverage is a concern for many South Floridians who aren't citizens. One reason is because, whether they live here legally or not, their jobs don't usually include health coverage, says Kaiser Health News.  The health law will help some of them gain coverage -- but those in the country illegally, not.

"That decision by the Obama administration brought complaints from immigration advocates. Hispanic groups complained about the Obama administration's decision in 2012 to not extend the health law’s coverage to young adults who are accepted into a new program granting temporary amnesty to some who were brought to the U.S. as children," reports Kaiser.

"But for those who are not exempt, the health law is expected to boost coverage, either through private insurers or in Medicaid, the state-federal health program for low-income residents.  

"Immigrants here legally who don’t get coverage through their jobs will be able to purchase health coverage through new state-based marketplaces called exchanges that open Oct. 1. Since many are in low-paying jobs, they may also qualify for Medicaid, although most are not eligible for that coverage until they have been in the country for at least five years. 

"Immigrants who have refugee status can qualify for Medicaid without the five-year waiting period. The federal law expanded Medicaid eligibility in all states to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $15,800 for an individual and $33,000 for a family of four."

But Florida declined that offer. Still, the fed will allow Florida residents earning 100 percent of the poverty level to buy health plans with subsidies on the market exchange. Legal immigrants earning more than the Medicaid limit could qualify for a federal subsidy aimed at helping people earning up to four times the poverty level -- about $46,000 for an individual -- purchase coverage through the exchanges. (Read more)



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