Jun 27, 2022 - News

Colorado expands care for immigrants without legal status but fear remains

Illustration of a stethoscope made from a coin.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Colorado is preparing to provide health care subsidies to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally as part of a broader effort to address coverage gaps.

Why it matters: Hispanic people lack health insurance at a greater rate than other minority groups, and families with mixed status make up a significant portion, our partners at the Colorado News Collaborative and Kaiser Health News report.

  • About 30% of Hispanic adults have no health coverage, the state estimates, compared to the statewide average of 12%.

What's happening: Most immigrants without legal status are ineligible for federal health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid — so Colorado stepped in to cover the tab.

  • The state is one of a dozen that currently covers dialysis for people who otherwise would use the emergency room for the service.
  • Starting in November, Colorado will enroll unauthorized immigrants living below 138% of the federal poverty level for 2023 coverage on the individual market.
  • Medicaid and CHIP coverage for pregnant people and children will begin in 2025.

Yes, but: Advocates who work with immigrants say it won't be easy to get people to emerge from the shadows after the Trump administration inflamed fears that signing up for health insurance could lead to deportation.

  • "The trust is lost. It takes time to rebuild that," said María Albañil-Rangel at Tri-County Health Network, a Telluride nonprofit working to increase health care access.

Of note: In the first year of subsidized coverage, the state can enroll 10,000 unauthorized residents, only a fraction of those in need.

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