On October 4th, 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Trump Administration is rolling out a new policy proposal that will prohibit most immigrants who do not have health insurance coverage from obtaining visas. The move is just the latest attempt by President Trump to punish low-income immigrants and immigrants who use basic social services.
Trump Proclamation: Immigrants Have 30 Days to Prove Health Coverage
The Proclamation issued by President Trump mandates that the majority of immigrants entering the United States must demonstrate means to cover health costs in order to obtain a visa. More specifically, the administration seeks to require immigrants entering the country to prove that they have health insurance within 30 days or to prove that they have sufficient financial resources to cover any medical costs that are they reasonably likely incur. Though, notably, refugees and asylum-seekers are, at least currently, exempt from these requirements. Unless a court challenge succeeds, the new rule is set to go into effect on November 3rd, 2019.
Coverage Obtained With ACA Subsidies Will Not Count
Disturbingly, President Trump’s Proclamation makes it very difficult for lower-income immigrants to meet the new standards that are being set. Not only is health insurance coverage notoriously expensive in the United States, but the policy explicitly disallows the use of subsidies through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
In other words, if an immigrant can afford health insurance coverage, but can only do so with a partial subsidy through the ACA, then they would still be deemed ineligible for a visa under President’s Trump’s new policy. As top health economist Larry Levitt told Politico, the policy creates a “catch-22” for low-income immigrants, making it extremely difficult for them to qualify.
Non Citizens are More Likely to Be Uninsured
Since President Trump assumed office in January of 2017, fewer Americans have health insurance coverage. Last year, the rate of the uninsured role by nearly up to 5.5 percent. Though, the number of adults who lack adequate health insurance coverage is not equally distributed across communities. Low-income communities face serious challenges. Further, non-citizens are nearly four times as likely to be uninsured as are native-born Americans. Indeed, the percentage of noncitizens who lack health insurance has increased substantially under the Trump Administration’s policies. At the same time that President Trump is making it more difficult for immigrants to get health insurance coverage—including punishing them for accepting public benefits—he is also penalizing them for not having it.
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