Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, has released a draft of a waiver under Obamacare that must be approved by the federal government before the exchange can begin selling health plans to undocumented immigrants.
If approved, the draft waiver would allow Covered California to sell health plans in the individual market to undocumented immigrants, though the income-based subsidies available to U.S. citizens would not apply. Currently, President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act prohibits those illegally in the country from purchasing a plan through state or federal exchanges.
Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a health care consumer advocacy coalition, said the waiver is the first of its kind and an initial step in creating more health insurance options.
In June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 10, the legislation that allows undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance plans through Covered California.
Citing academic studies from the UC Berkeley and the UCLA, the state’s waiver points out that an estimated 17,000 of the state’s more than 2.5 million undocumented immigrants would gain coverage as a result of the waiver.
That, however, represents only 0.7 percent of the 2.3 million people purchasing health insurance in California’s individual market.
Most people get their health insurance through an employer.