Earlier this month, the Federal Register posted a proclamation issued by President Trump suspending immigration benefits for those who “will financially burden the U.S. healthcare system.” The proclamation becomes effective the first week of November 2019.
The proclamation means that intending immigrants must have approved health insurance coverage within 30 days of entry or demonstrate financial resources sufficient to cover reasonably foreseeable medical costs. This policy will have little impact on those coming to the United States for work since most would be covered by company health insurance programs or, in the alternative, be able to demonstrate an income sufficient to pay for their own healthcare. Even minimal health insurance plans, such as a catastrophic plan, meet the new requirement. Interestingly, although Medicare also meets the new requirement, Medicaid is specifically called out as being insufficient.
The proclamation notes that a loss of $35 billion hits the United States healthcare system on an annual basis, some of which is attributable to services provided to those who are uninsured. The proclamation says that these shortfalls partially become a taxpayer burden as such healthcare institutions get reimbursed for those losses. It states that those who lawfully immigrate to the United States are three times more likely not to have healthcare coverage.
The new rule only applies to those seeking an immigrant visa, not those entering in a non-immigrant or temporary visa status. Those with existing immigrant visas are grandfathered in and therefore would also not be impacted. The proclamation also states that those seeking entry as refugees or asylees would not be subject to the health coverage limitation.