If you’re an undocumented immigrant your ability to purchase health insurance even if you wanted to is limited, but advocates are looking to change that.
“The way our system is structured right now it basically leaves out undocumented immigrants,” Matthew Meizlish said.
Meizlish, a Yale Medical student who treats patients at an urgent care facility, said that means more than half of Connecticut’s undocumented population has no access to health care.
“The Affordable Care Act did a lot to expand health insurance to a lot of people but it prohibited undocumented immigrants from accessing health insurance, either through the marketplaces that were set up by the ACA or through Medicaid,” Meizlish said.
“While the uninsured rate in Connecticut is roughly 5.9%, an estimated 52% of undocumented immigrants in our state are uninsured,” 200 medical providers wrote in a letter to the co-chairs of the Human Services Committee.
The letter called for the committee to hold a public hearing on a bill that would give undocumented immigrants access to HUSKY - the state’s Medicaid system.
“It’s a moral issue,” Sen. Derek Slap (D-West Hartford) said.
Slap said this bill is a priority for the West Hartford delegation.
“We believe that everybody should have health care,” Slap said.
Secondly, it makes fiscal sense, according to Slap.
“The state and taxpayers pay right now for health care for undocumented immigrants,” Slap said.
Meizlish said a patient who visited his urgent care center four months after a hand injury is the perfect example of this. He sais his patient injured his hand with a drill on a construction site and got emergency care, but had no insurance for any follow-up care. As a result, he lost most of the function of his hand.
“The care that was ultimately needed was more expensive and it came at a point where his life had already unraveled,” Meizlish says.
The public hearing on the bill is at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 11.