Support groups are helping immigrants navigate the Affordable Care Act

Immigration advocacy groups are working to help recent immigrants to the U.S. understand the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” A huge population of immigrants in the U.S. are uninsured, according to a poll taken in 2012. Since the roll out of the new health care reform laws, many have reported that the new mandates are confusing and complicated to understand without guidance. Community groups nationwide have begun to train “Navigators” to help guide the public through the process and to assist immigrants in applying and registering for health care online.

These Navigators are especially valuable to the recent immigrants in the country because the laws will affect people differently based on their immigration status. Naturalized citizens and those who are “lawfully present” in the U.S. will be allowed access to the same health care options as a  U.S.-born citizen, along with individuals who have been granted Deferred Action, political asylum or refugee status. More than 360 groups collaborated on an open letter to the president and lawmakers requesting access to health care benefits for immigrants and those granted legal status under the immigration overhaul.

Because so many immigrant communities are faced with economic challenges and many people in those communities statistically hold lower-wage jobs, they do not have access to the assistance they would need to make the enrollment process understandable. So, the Navigators are trained in multiple languages and the call centers they operate are equipped with translation services.

Currently, immigrant parents of children born in the U.S. are able to secure health care for their children. Older immigrants may have to wait to benefit from Medicare under the current laws because of their citizenship status and the cost of the service, but advocates are working to amend the immigration bill to assist these citizens as well.