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Immigrants In U.S. Illegally Could Qualify For Medi-Cal

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Immigrants In U.S. Illegally Could Qualify For Medi-Cal
Up to 500,000 immigrants living illegally in California could get Medi-Cal coverage if executive actions by President Barack Obama take effect.

Up to 500,000 immigrants living in the U.S. illegally could be eligible for Medi-Cal coverage if executive actions by President Barack Obama take effect, according to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Under the Affordable Care Act, immigrants in the country illegally are not allowed to participate in health insurance exchanges and are ineligible for federal subsidies to buy coverage.

But if the federal government were to adopt Obama's plan to grant those immigrants temporary relief from deportation, they might qualify for the Medi-Cal program, which provides health care benefits to the poor.

The new UCLA study estimates the cost per person would probably be lower than the statewide average.

The center's research director, Nadereh Pourat, said that’s because the vast majority of the immigrants are under 45.

“The reason that is significant is that the younger population is usually healthier," Pourat said. "(The) younger population has not yet developed some of the chronic conditions."

Pourat said offering preventive care to more people could help ensure better health for the community as a whole.

However, Pourat said many immigrants in the U.S. illegally might not apply for Medi-Cal even if they were eligible to do so for fear of a crackdown by immigration authorities.

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