The new health insurance requirement

The Migration Policy Institute writes about the new rule, announced on October 4, requiring immigrants to show evidence of having health insurance. “Coming without warning, clarity about implementation, advance planning, or consultation with key stakeholders, this proclamation seems to add up to a recipe for more chaos in the already chaotic U.S. immigration system.” It will cut immigration, recently about one million persons a year, by roughly 375,000.

“This is more threatening to current immigration flows than the public charge rule, which the administration is expanding to include more ways of public economic support of would-be immigrants. The new health insurance requirement creates an even stricter test, because it looks at just one factor: the ability to quickly find health insurance coverage.

MPI estimates the new health insurance requirement could prohibit the entry of roughly 375,000 immigrants annually— mainly family-based immigrants who make up the majority of those getting green cards from abroad.

The proclamation would apply to future legal permanent residents coming from abroad, not to immigrants already in the United States who are adjusting to a green card from another status. Refugees and other humanitarian entrants are excluded from the policy, scheduled to take effect November 3.

In order to assess the impact that this could have on future immigration, MPI looked at the best available proxy: recent immigrants. 65 percent of recent green-card recipients lack health insurance that would qualify under the Trump proclamation, including 34 percent who have no health insurance coverage and 31 percent who have Medicaid or subsidized insurance that would not count under the policy.

The easiest way for State Department staff to implement the new policy may be a straight income test. Those with high enough incomes could convincingly argue they can afford unsubsidized, private insurance or pay for foreseeable medical costs; those with lower incomes could not.”

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