A Tune-Up on Eligibility Rules and Application Process for Families with Immigrants

With the third open enrollment period firmly underway, assisters are racing to get eligible people covered, including many families with one or more immigrant member whom are often among the most complicated cases assisters see. Since nearly half of all uninsured children in America live in families with at least one immigrant member, enrolling families with immigrants in health coverage is a high priority for us here at CCF. In the last few months, I have had a chance to help train hundreds of consumer assisters about how to overcome barriers to enrollment in health coverage programs for families that include immigrants.

As Tricia Brooks mentioned in her recent blog, there are some new features on Healthcare.gov that we hope will improve the likelihood that individual’s citizenship and immigration status can be verified electronically and limit data-matching problems. This is important because data-matching errors (or inconsistencies) require consumers to submit the correct documentation and require the marketplace to act on it. If left unresolved, these data-matching problems can lead to a loss of coverage. To try to prevent these errors and inconsistencies from occuring, Healthcare.gov now includes:

  • prompts in the form of popup windows that remind individuals to enter document numbers that prove citizenship and immigration status.
  • a reminder in bright orange to reenter a social security number when an already-entered number could not be electronically verified with the Social Security Administration’s database.
  • an “onscreen” eligibility determination that reminds individuals of any outstanding data-matching issues that need to be resolved in red text, in addition to a downloadable PDF with more eligibility details.

To see some of these new features, and get a tune up on the immigrant eligibility rules, check out the slides below that were created in partnership with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the National Immigration Law Center. The slidedecks include:

  • eligibility rules for immigrants;
  • family scenarios to provide examples of how to apply these rules;
  • information about how to navigate concerns that families with immigrants have when applying for coverage;
  • examples of common immigration documents types and where to find document numbers
  • details on processes such as what occurs when a consumer has an immigration data-matching issue and appears to be eligible for Medicaid or is not otherwise eligible for Medicaid

The first slide deck was prepared for the Center on Budget’s Beyond the Basics webinar series on November 19, 2015.

The second slide deck was prepared for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, which hosted this training as part of its webinar series on November 20, 2015. (Note: this slide deck does not include Medicaid and CHIP eligibility rules because CMS covered this part of the presentation.)

It’s been great to train folks that do the hard work of helping people enroll in health coverage in communities across the nation. And as part of state-specific trainings I conducted, I was able to visit the state of Michigan for the first time so I can now cross it off my bucket list, (thanks Michigan Primary Care Association). Thanks to Covering Kids and Families, I also spent some time training a robust network of assisters in Colorado. If the Michigan or Colorado slides would be helpful to you, send me a note at ss3361@georgetown.edu and I would be happy to share them with you.

Sonya Schwartz
Sonya Schwartz is a Research Fellow at the Center for Children and Families

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