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Immigrants in the US illegally are not eligible for free health care under the ACA

Immigrants in the US illegally are not eligible for free health care under the ACA

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CLAIM: Democrats voted to fine American citizens for not buying health insurance and conspired to give it to “illegal aliens” for free.

THE FACTS: Immigrants without legal authorization to be in the country do not get free health insurance.

Not Real News

FILE - In this March 23, 2010, file photo, President Barack Obama signs the health care bill in the East Room of the White House in Washington. On Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting Democrats voted to fine American citizens for not buying health insurance and conspired to give it to “illegal aliens” for free. The Affordable Care Act, which originally included fines for not buying health insurance, excludes immigrants living in the country without legal permission from receiving tax credits or purchasing insurance on the ACA marketplace. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Affordable Care Act, which originally included fines for not buying health insurance, excludes immigrants living in the country without legal permission from receiving tax credits or purchasing insurance on the ACA marketplace. “Under current rules, undocumented immigrants are not eligible to purchase coverage through the ACA marketplace,” said Samantha Artiga, vice president and director of the Racial Equity and Health Policy Program at Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan organization that does health policy analysis.

A widely shared post on social media claims: “The Democrats voted to fine American citizens for not buying insurance, and then conspired to give it to illegal aliens for free.” Although the health care overhaul signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2010 originally fined Americans who did not buy insurance, the penalty has since been set to $0, after Congress passed a reform that took effect last year. A key part of the ACA is the marketplace where American citizens and certain lawfully present immigrants can purchase health insurance. Under the law, some people qualify for tax credits to offset the cost of buying a plan. But the law excludes immigrants living in the country without legal permission from receiving tax credits or even buying insurance on the marketplace at full price.

Biden has proposed creating a public option for insurance, and has said immigrants without legal permission would be allowed to buy into it. But those immigrants would not be eligible for free or subsidized healthcare. “Biden’s proposal would allow undocumented immigrants to buy health insurance, including the proposed public option, in the ACA marketplaces without federal subsidies,” Gerald Kominski, a professor at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, wrote to the AP in an email. “That isn’t free care.”

— Jude Joffe-Block

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