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What health reform means for the people of Illinois

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Immigrant Health Care Access & The Affordable Care Act

A recently released report entitled “Affordable Care Act Implementation in Illinois: Overcoming Barriers to Immigrant Health Care Access” demonstrates the need for a culturally competent market place and navigator program that will cater to the complex needs of the immigrant population of Illinois. Luvia Quiñones of the Illinois Family Resource Program and Abdelnasser Rashid of the Illinois Immigrant Integration Institute collaborated on the report. They address the following questions:   

Who are the uninsured immigrants in Illinois?
  • Illinois is home to 1,754,808 immigrants. 45% are naturalized U.S. citizens and 55% are either Legal Permanent Residents, (LPR’s), or undocumented. Of the immigrant population:
    • 77% are Latino 
    • 16% are White
    • 11% are Asian
  • 30% of the total uninsured population in Illinois is comprised of immigrants. 
  How will the uninsured immigrant population benefit from the ACA?
  •  48% of the immigrant population will be eligible for coverage in the state of Illinois.
What are the current and future barriers immigrant families face while trying to access health and human services?
  1. Language, literacy and cultural barriers, (Illinois has the 5th largest limited English proficiency population in the country).
  2. Complexity of application process and of eligibility rules
  3. Logistical and Public Education Challenges  
  4. Administrative burdens, (many cases are left open as agencies wait to determine the legal status of a client).
  5. Limited computer proficiency
  6. Climates of fear and mistrust (particularly common among mixed status families, which comprise around 25% of all immigrant families in the U.S). 
How can IL best serve and enroll the maximum number of uninsured immigrants through the marketplace?

The report highlights the strategies already employed by the Immigrant Family Resource Program, (IFRP). IFRP subcontracts with 37 community organizations that work with immigrant populations, and over the past 13 years has worked to improve the lives of over 425,000 immigrants and refugees by:
  • Ensuring that a diverse population of immigrants are able to connect to services through the capacity to communicate in 45 languages,
  • Collaborating with community members and state staff to clarify what documents are required for assistance and insurance program applications, AND 
  • Engaging trusted community organizations already frequented by immigrant populations and educating them on pertinent issues.
Incorporating these strategies into the Illinois health insurance marketplace will be instrumental in reaching the immigrant population in Illinois.

Click here for coverage of the report in last week’s Tribune!


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