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Obamacare: Children of undocumented parents face an uncertain future

By   /   October 11, 2013  /   News  /   6 Comments

Part 25 of 97 in the series Obamacare

By Marianela Toledo | Florida Watchdog

MIAMI — Thousands of children born in the U.S. with parents who are undocumented immigrants probably go without health insurance.

UNINSURED: Thousands of children who were born in the U.S. but have undocumented immigrant parents will likely go without health insurance because their parents want to remain under the radar.

“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.

Another problem involves dental health. A study in Washington state showed a trip to the ER was the first “dental visit” for one in four children overall and for roughly half the children younger than 3 1/2 years old.

The Doris Ison Community Health Center has a lot of experience in helping these people.

“Here we work a lot with seasonal farm workers and migrants who are undocumented. We serve (everyone) without asking about their immigration status,” said Tiffany Helberg, spokeswoman for the health center.

None of this was lost on the people who work at the Academy of Pediatrics. The academy, in an open letter to the U.S. Senate, warned about the unintended consequences of health-care reform and the enrollment requirement as requisite for seeking care.

“As advocates for the children we serve, we urge you to maintain protections in the bill against immigration enforcement actions occurring at sensitive locations such as schools and healthcare facilities as the bill moves forward. Health care facilities should be seen as a safe space for children and their families. To accomplish this neither medical nor health care facilities records should be used in any immigration enforcement action.”

The academy also considers the immigration bill a “missed opportunity” that should have been designed in such a way to ensure that every individual, especially children, are covered.

“As children health experts and advocates, we remain concerned that the legislation does little to address the multiple barriers to accessing comprehensive, affordable, and culturally and linguistically effective health care services faced by many children in immigrant communities.”

According to the nonprofit Child Defense Fund,  7.2 million uninsured children in America are uninsured. Every 70 seconds a child is born uninsured, and each day 1,208 more are born without health coverage.

Contact Marianela Toledo at [email protected] twitter @mtoledoreporter

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Part of 97 in the series Obamacare
  1. Obamacare compliance means less money for TN service agencies
  2. The mystery of Obamacare spending in Arkansas
  3. Obamacare raises questions for MD small business owners
  4. Kansas official on Obamacare: ‘Let someone else be the guinea pig’
  5. Obamacare insurance marketplace has plenty of kinks on first day
  6. OR’s Obamacare insurance marketplace hits technological snag
  7. Fail: Day 1 of the New Mexico Obamacare rollout
  8. Senator asks: Do you want this dysfunctional government taking over health care?
  9. Jobs, coverage at risk with Obamacare, MN union health official says
  10. Oregon’s Obamacare ads resemble middle school art
  11. VIDEO: Obamacare vs Affordable Care Act: Comedy triumphs in court of confusion
  12. Patience is key to navigating Illinois’ Obamacare marketplace
  13. Hawaii residents, lawmakers frustrated with health connector glitches
  14. Healthy young, key to Obamacare, aren’t buying it
  15. NM’s health exchange tries to lure ‘young invincibles’
  16. Obama drama: Senator blames governor for big rate hikes
  17. Progressive group navigates Oregon students through Obamacare
  18. Maddening: Trying to log onto federal health care site
  19. You know that one guy who successfully signed up for Obamacare? He didn’t
  20. What’s wrong? It’s been a week, and Obamacare website still not working
  21. HHS Secretary Sebelius back in FL after embarrassing Obamacare rollout
  22. Health centers enroll Floridians in Obamacare as application problems persist
  23. VIDEO: Stewart skewers Sebelius on Obamacare
  24. Obamacare effect? 9 companies exit Nebraska’s health insurance market
  25. Obamacare: Children of undocumented parents face an uncertain future
  26. Which way do we go? Obamacare navigator registration in TN in question
  27. NM health exchange tries to ease problems with Obamacare website
  28. CPA says hype over Obamacare small business tax credit is misleading
  29. Obamacare navigator under fire for arrest warrant
  30. Reports of Obamacare fraud emerge in Tennessee
  31. After two weeks, FL online Obamacare enrollees are hard to find
  32. Illinois state governor touts 100K Obamacare enrollees, all in Medicaid
  33. Kansas lawmaker calls for crackdown on Obamacare navigators
  34. WI health care exchange seeing few getting through
  35. Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange relaunches with more glitches
  36. We’ll know next month how many people in NM signed up for Obamacare — maybe
  37. Zero: Number of Nebraskans Obamacare navigators have signed up
  38. It took this Delaware woman 11 days to sign up for Obamacare – and she was the first
  39. How many people have signed up for health insurance in VA? Who knows?
  40. What else? NM federal health exchange ads stalled due to website problems
  41. Blue Cross hires temp workers to deal with Obamacare glitches
  42. If Obamacare is the next Medicare, will physicians leave en masse?
  43. Three problems that won’t be solved by fixing the Obamacare exchange glitches
  44. Plenty of Oregonians interested in Obamacare, but none can enroll online
  45. Criticize this: Obamacare premiums a near match to WI disclosures
  46. Report: Missourians will see sharp rise in premiums under Obamacare
  47. Kansas navigators say they’ve enrolled no one in Obamacare
  48. Obamacare too costly for rich Coloradans, Democrat congressman says
  49. Study: Kansas premiums to spike following Obamacare rollout
  50. Hang on to your candy: Creepy Uncle Sam is back
  51. Obamacare or bust: NM Watchdog turned back again
  52. Medical journals, experts refute claim that Medicaid cuts ER use
  53. Arkansas spends $4M on Obamacare ads, wants more
  54. LOL: In July video, HHS bragged about being ‘on schedule’ with Obamacare
  55. Illinois uses Day of the Dead to market Obamacare
  56. Sebelius denies GOP’s Terry ‘unreliable’ Obamacare info
  57. About 290,000 Washington residents lose health insurance plans
  58. Broken promise: Obamacare cancels almost 20,000 Kansas health care plans
  59. Top hospitals opt out of Obamacare
  60. Obamacare moves to intensive care
  61. Obamacare provision could lead to more Medicaid fraud
  62. Obamacare: Religious groups want to ‘move mountains’
  63. Obamacare hitting Wisconsin residents with double whammy
  64. Kansas AG: Obamacare threatens consumer privacy
  65. 1,500 in New Mexico have to move out of the high-risk insurance pool
  66. Cover Oregon website fiasco creates jobs, but costs millions
  67. For Florida’s Obamacare small business exchange, it’s crunch time
  68. Only 877 Wisconsinites have signed up for Obamacare, federal report says
  69. Just 172 in NM have completed Obamacare applications: ‘Woefully inadequate,’ says NMIX board member
  70. With only 346 Oklahomans signed up, leaders decry ‘Obamacare debacle’
  71. Defying Obamacare: ‘Send them the bill,’ NM insurance official says
  72. Kansas Obamacare enrollment dwarfed by nearly 20,000 cancellations
  73. Numbers don’t lie: In Illinois, Obamacare means Medicaid
  74. Wisconsin governor proposes insurance plan to address Obamacare rollout failure
  75. Tennesseans might know Tuesday if they can keep canceled health insurance
  76. People demand answers over Oregon’s Obamacare fail
  77. Calif. says ‘no’ to Obamacare freebies, makes own law
  78. HI health exchange violates federal law, League of Women Voters say
  79. Obamacare video winner: ‘Forget about the price tag’
  80. Harvard study finds ‘striking’ rejection of Obamacare by young Americans
  81. HI health exchange has signed up 574 people, for about $348,000 apiece
  82. Are the uninsured getting Obamacare coverage in Illinois?
  83. Secret Obamacare handbook the feds don’t want you to see is online
  84. Lost in translation: Once-supportive Hispanics turning backs on Obama, ACA
  85. HI Obamacare exchange not fiscally sustainable, lawmakers told
  86. Illinois’ latest Obamacare targets: gold diggers and momma’s boys
  87. Now Democrats are bashing California’s Obamacare exchange, too
  88. Obamacare: For $1.37M we get Richard Simmons in lurid web stream
  89. Obamacare: A welcome mat for IRS horrors
  90. California senator seeks audit of state Obamacare exchange
  91. Report: Hawaii ranks worst for Obamacare signups
  92. CA senator sues Obamacare exchange for causing policy cancellations of 1M
  93. Failure of Maryland Obamacare exchange could mean higher premiums in North Dakota
  94. Video: Watch Creepy Uncle Sam make it rain
  95. Five bright spots surrounding the Obamacare exchange failures
  96. Obamacare architect admitted in 2012 states without exchanges lose subsidies
  97. Architects of Richard Simmons Obamacare dance-off rehired in $156M PR campaign


Marianela formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Raccoon1

    Check into Iowa, I know several illegals and their kids are insured

  • DailyKenn

    How illegals can insure their kids…
    1. Go home.
    2. Come back legally
    3. Seek a job that includes insurance like the rest of us.

  • Captain Tom

    Why don’t we just open the doors of our country to all foreigners so we can take care of the entire world! Keep this up and you’ll be in the same boat as they are!

  • Tony Novak

    This is a tricky topic but it is simply wrong to think that insurance is not available to the children of undocumented immigrants. For many years a type of travel insurance called ‘Inbound Immigrant’ covers those who wish to purchase this coverage. It is not affected by the Affordable Care Act or immigration laws. I think that reporters get confused by the “qualified coverage” issue under Obamacare and forget that many Americans will be covered by insurance that does not constitute qualified coverage under the law.

  • Love

    We should. Your ancestors migrated here too. They didn’t have to go through as much as the immigrants of today do. Be grateful and don’t be selfish. This land is OUR land.

  • Love

    You say it like it’s that simple.