Government Drops Thousands from Health Insurance

By Kevin Belanger,
Domestic News Writer

The rollout of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is again coming under public scrutiny because the federal government has warned 115,000 enrollees that they may lose coverage at the end of September.

This 115,000 consist of immigrants who failed to provide proof of residency or proof of citizenship, required to be covered under the Act.

The United States Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that it sent 300,000 letters in August requesting the proper documentation be sent immediately. The Latin Times reports that Florida and Texas have the highest number of cancellations. Andy Slavitt, an official for healthcare.gov, reports that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid will continue to reach out to those who have not responded.

Slavitt also stated that these problems are not a symptom of a failure by the law, but rather normal occurrences given the number of people being insured. Nevertheless, critics have charged that Serco, the private company hired by the government to facilitate enrollments, is not efficient enough and has led to documents being lost.

Some groups representing immigrants have criticized the federal government for the threat of lost coverage. According to the Latin Times, these groups claim that many of these people have already sent the documents, sometimes more than once. These groups claim that the government losing the documents is a serious issue, because it leads people to rush to resend them, possibly leading to mistakes. The World Socialist Website also reports that the most recent letters led to confusion for people who already sent the documents.

Advocates for immigrants have criticized the letters for only being in Spanish and English. Amy Jones, an advocate for immigrants from Southeast Asia states that many immigrants simply do not understand the letters and either throw them away or ignore them.

Other advocates point out that part of the problem could be a lack of knowledge about the American Health Care system, particularly for immigrants from the Middle East, where health insurance is not commonplace.

150 organizations, including the American Federation of Labor, National Health Law Program, and the National Immigrant Law Organization have appealed to the Department of Health Services to postpone suspension of insurance in order to allow people to send or resend the required documents.

The Deputy director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated: “Let me affirm that if they will pay their premiums, and are eligible for coverage, they will continue to get coverage,” implying that those who signed up for health insurance will keep their insurance if they are paying the required premium.

In addition to problems for immigrants remaining covered, the federal government is also facing difficulty in reconciling the reported incomes of individuals on their applications with government tax records.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 23 print edition.

Contact Kevin at
kevin.belanger@student.shu.edu

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