Home Politics DACA Recipients Can Now Enroll in Health Plans This November 

DACA Recipients Can Now Enroll in Health Plans This November 

What Does the DACA Final Rule Actually Mean? belatina latine
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The Biden-Harris Administration has finalized policies to enhance health coverage access for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, commonly known as Dreamers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), has enacted a rule that allows DACA recipients to enroll in Qualified Health Plans (QHP) through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Health Insurance Marketplace or in a Basic Health Program (BHP). This rule, effective November 1, 2024, is anticipated to enable up to 100,000 previously uninsured DACA recipients to gain health coverage. 

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra emphasized the significance of this development, saying in an official press statement, “HHS is committed to making health coverage accessible for DACA recipients – Dreamers – who have worked hard to live the American Dream. Dreamers are our neighbors and friends; they are students, teachers, social workers, doctors, and nurses. More importantly, they are fellow Americans.” He noted that over a third of DACA recipients currently lack health insurance, and extending eligibility for coverage will enhance their health and well-being, while also benefiting the broader economy. 

Echoing this sentiment, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said, “The Biden-Harris Administration believes health care is a right, not a privilege, and that extends to DACA recipients who have built their lives in the United States. Today’s rule reduces barriers for DACA recipients to obtain health care coverage and is a vital step toward making certain that it is available and accessible to all Americans.” 

What Does This Mean to DACA Recipients?

The new rule arrives at a crucial time, as individuals without health insurance are less likely to receive preventive care or routine health screenings, often delaying necessary medical treatments and accruing significant medical debts. DACA recipients are currently three times more likely to be uninsured compared to the general U.S. population. The rule also makes DACA recipients potentially eligible for advance payments of the premium tax credit (APTC) and cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), which can substantially lower the costs of Marketplace coverage based on income levels. 

Additionally, the rule introduces a special enrollment period for DACA recipients and other newly eligible individuals, allowing them to select a health plan through the Marketplace within 60 days following the rule’s effective date. This period coincides with the 2025 Open Enrollment Period, ensuring that newly eligible individuals can seamlessly enroll in coverage. Those applying in November 2024 may start their Marketplace coverage as early as December 1, 2024, if all other eligibility requirements are met. Moreover, DACA recipients and others eligible for a BHP can apply for coverage starting November 1, 2024. 

The Fine Print

To promote administrative efficiency, clarity, and transparency, CMS has made technical adjustments to the definition of “lawfully present” for determining eligibility for Marketplace or BHP coverage. These modifications are intended to ensure accurate and consistent eligibility determinations and verification processes. 

CMS is dedicated to offering high-quality education on the implementation of this rule and providing technical assistance to the various parties aiding immigrants and other communities in health coverage enrollment. 

All provisions of the final rule will be effective on November 1, 2024. For more information, visit the HHS fact sheet or view the final rule on the Federal Register. 

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