New data from a survey conducted by the National Immigration Law Center indicates that over a quarter of young immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program lack health insurance and face challenges in accessing healthcare. The report reveals that 27% of DACA recipients do not have any form of health insurance or healthcare plan, estimated to be nearly 157,000 individuals out of the total 580,000 young adults covered by DACA.
The survey, conducted with the assistance of United We Dream, the Center for American Progress, and the National Immigration Law Center, interviewed 817 DACA recipients. Of those DACA recipients who reported having health insurance, 80% were covered through their employers or unions. However, unlike most Americans, DACA recipients cannot rely on federal health insurance programs if they lose their jobs and subsequently their health insurance coverage, as these programs are only available to those with legal immigration status.
To address the issue of ineligibility for federal health insurance programs and reduce the high uninsured rate among DACA recipients, the Department of Health and Human Services under President Joe Biden proposed a rule that would expand access to healthcare coverage. The proposed rule seeks to include DACA recipients under the definition of “lawful presence” for Medicaid and Affordable Care Act coverage. However, the rule has not yet been finalized, and public comments are being solicited until June 23.
DACA recipients’ healthcare access highlights the need for change. The Biden administration’s proposed rule aims to address this issue, but its finalization and implementation are still pending. DACA recipients hope for a more permanent solution, such as a pathway to citizenship, that recognizes their contributions and provides long-term security.