The bill for immigration reform - by which 11 million people will be legally permitted to work in the country, though without options for affordable health care is being contested in the House.
Some members of the Senate contested the issue of health care for the immigrants. This will be a shortsighted compromise which will widen the gap between those who are insured and so many who cannot avail it.
According to Federal law, there are already many stipulations in place - like Medicaid which is not an option for immigrants. The immigrants are individuals who can legalize eventually (after 10 years), and will be able to buy health cover in the new marketplace; they will be barred from credits and subsidies which make the coverage unaffordable. As individual insurance can run into hundreds of dollars a month and the newly legalized people will find it unaffordable and have to go without insurance.
Many Republicans in the House are making a noise that the legal immigrants will have to buy health covers, though, without subsidies or tax credits.
When a citizen is uninsured it is a financially risky situation as they seek help only in emergencies, thus not receiving any preventive care and the illness can become more severe. The repercussions are shorter life spans, more emergency care visits, loss of work and a lower quality of life.
When a minimum wage worker gets sick, it is a nightmare for him and his family as he will be devastated by huge hospital bills.
Offering affordable health insurance to immigrants cannot be seen as a benefit, it is in fact a conservative solution for the country where there are so many uninsured citizens. This will save money in the long run - as emergency care, which is the last option - is expensive
The only way is to make people take responsibility for their health and stay healthy; is when the government will give immigrants an equal chance and access to affordable health care, and thus reduce the physical and economic effects that the local government will end up in paying for uncompensated care.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Kathy Ko Chin, June 2013