Children of Undocumented Face Uncertain Future Under Obamacare

Courtesy of Watchdog

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthThousands of children born in the U.S. with parents who are undocumented immigrants probably go without health insurance.

“We tell them not to be afraid to register their children, that we will not share (their) personal information with anyone else,” Karelia Stanford told Florida Watchdog. Stanford is one of several Certified Enrollment Consultants working at the Doris Ison Community Health Center in south Florida.

About 575,000 children — or 13.5 percent of Florida children — are uninsured, according to the American Academics of Pediatrics. The majority are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Many of the children are offspring of undocumented parents who shy away from enrolling in anything involving the government. They worry someone will share their personal information with other government agencies, including immigration officials, and that they could be deported.

The fear of being discovered means countless children end up in emergency rooms simply because their parents waited too long to seek help. According to a study of 23 states in 2005, uninsured children visiting an emergency room accounted for 8.6 percent of the total. Leighton Ku and Sheetal Matani investigated and published their findings in Health Affair.

“From a policy perspective, the insurance gaps for citizen children in immigrant families are distressing, since they are eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP and are a major target of outreach campaigns. The insurance coverage of U.S.-born children of immigrants has fallen in recent years.” Ku and Matani said. Their study noted that children in non-citizen families had less initial access to ambulatory medical and emergency medical care and, even when they had access, often received less care.

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