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DACA Recipients Can Soon Get Federal Health Insurance Coverage

Posted by Karol Brown | May 06, 2024 | 0 Comments

Young immigrants who have been approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will soon become eligible to receive federal health care coverage. President Joe Biden's administration announced a new federal rule on Friday, May 3, 2024 that allowed DACA recipients to enroll in a qualified health plan through the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace. DACA recipients will also become eligible for coverage through a basic health program.

There are over a half a million young adults, an estimated 580,000 people, qualified for DACA status. To qualify for DACA, individuals must show that they not have legal immigration status, have lived in the U.S. since they were children, and who have graduated from high school or are currently studying. 

The DACA program helps immigrants obtain work authorization and prevents them from being deported from the United States. DACA has enabled people to access better-paying jobs and educational opportunities since President Obama implemented the program in June of 2012. However, DACA beneficiaries were barred from accessing federally-funded health insurance, even though this group contributes billions of dollars in federal taxes.

Although some DACA recipients receive health insurance through their employers, a report published in 2023 by the National Immigration Law Center found that 27% of DACA recipients were not covered by any kind of health insurance or other health care plan.

Health and Human Services Department implemented a federal rule that expanded the definition of “lawful presence” to include DACA recipients. HHS estimates that over 100,000 young immigrants who do not have health insurance will now be able to access affordable health care. The new federal rule provides access to DACA recipients for coverage through the Affordable Care Act and its marketplaces and financial assistance programs. The rule does not make DACA recipients eligible for the Medicaid program. 

The rule will go into effect on November 1, 2024. This date coincides with the Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period for 2025 health insurance plans. Newly eligible DACA recipients will have access to federal health care as early as December.

Although the DACA program has been around for over a decade, the DACA program faced legal challenges during the Trump administration and from Republican-led states. DACA has been closed to new registrants since July 2021 as lawsuits challenging the program continue making their way through the courts.

About the Author

Karol Brown

Managing Attorney


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