New study finds thousands may be eligible for health insurance in California under DACA

March 27, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy 

<p>Between 360,000 and 500,000 immigrants living in California could become eligible for Medi-Cal if they receive temporary protection from deportation through President Obama&rsquo;s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, according to a study by UC Berkeley&rsquo;s Center for Labor Research and Education and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.</p>
<p>Under the President&rsquo;s executive actions on immigration, those people living in the U.S. without permission can't enroll in Covered California, but the state does allow those granted temporary relief from deportation to sign up for Medi-Cal. That means up to half a million more people could apply for the state's low-income health program.</p>
<p>In November, Obama announced the expansion of DACA, which was established in 2012, and the creation of Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). Application processes for the new programs have been placed on hold under a court order, but immigration policy experts predict that the new programs will ultimately be implemented.</p>
<p>The study also comes as the California Legislature considers the Health for All Act, or SB 4, proposed by state Senator Ricardo Lara. The bill would expand eligibility for comprehensive Medi-Cal to all low-income Californians, regardless of their immigration status, and broaden undocumented Californians&rsquo; options for purchasing private insurance.</p>
<p>The study&rsquo;s authors estimate that 66 percent of adults who would be eligible for Medi-Cal are working.</p>
<p>The researchers also found that Californians eligible for the program are relatively young: 92 percent are under the age of 45, which would likely mean that their insurance premiums would be lower than the current statewide average.</p>
<p>Providing comprehensive coverage would also build upon federal and state funds already spent. Previous research by the authors found that 60 percent of the cost per adult of comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage is already paid for by the federal and state government through restricted scope Medi-Cal, which covers emergency and pregnancy-related services.</p>
<p>The health coverage and demographic estimates use data from the 2013 Current Population Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau. The estimates are applied to the Pew Research Center&rsquo;s estimate that 1.25 million Californians are potentially eligible for DACA and DAPA.</p>
<p>Click <a href="http://healthpolicy.ucla.edu/publications/search/pages/detail.aspx?PubID=1374">here</a> to view the report.</p>

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