Immigration or health care each on their own are overwhelming enough without the two issues being joined.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill giving approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants a provisional legal status, allowing them to work in the country legally.
The legislation refused them federal benefits for 10 years, which included qualifying for Medicaid or federal subsidies on purchase of health insurance.
It may seem right to withhold benefits for immigrants breaking immigration laws, though this may lead to problems. Employers might find it easier to hire immigrants - as according to the Affordable Care Act - an employer with 50 or more workers has to provide health insurance or pay a penalty of $3000 per worker. He - the employer would not have to pay for health insurance of the immigrant.
Excluding immigrants will weaken the health care system as young individuals will balance the risk pool and the average age of undocumented immigrants in America is 36 years. Younger people are usually healthier and young immigrants could bring down costs.
Immigrants with limited employer based coverage, or access to federal subsidies would find buying health cover, saddled with steep financial obligations.
In fact the Congress should ease their access to health insurance along with the 1 million undocumented immigrants below 18 years, allowing them to buy insurance with their own money. This would be extremely unaffordable to below poverty line immigrants, without subsidies.
When no subsidies were available to them, a mandate to buy insurance would not be justified.
So, though 11 million undocumented were to be given a legal status for the sake of economy, was justified - not giving them health insurance was not.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Bloomberg.net, 3rd June 2013