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CA Healthcare Costs for Those Illegally in U.S. – $740 Million

Close up to a Piggy bank held by a doctor as she examines its back with a stethoscope

It’s a numbers game – when you talk about health insurance and estimating the cost of healthcare to those illegally in the U.S. And, some fairly high numbers are being floated around as to how much it could cost California. A current Senate analysis estimates for the Medi-Cal expansion bill ranges from $280 million to $740 million annually. However, the projected price tag of SB 4 (Senate Bill 4) would drop if President Obama’s deportation relief order stands.

According to researchers at UC Berkeley and UCLA, it is believed that, in California, about 1.8 million people who are in the country illegally lack healthcare coverage. But, around 1.5 million of them would qualify for Medi-Cal. The analysis continues to lay out two possible scenarios to calculate the proposal’s potential cost.

Under the present status quo, the overall increase in Medi-Cal spending would range from the $280 million to the $740 million price tag. On the positive side, the report estimates that between 50-60 percent of eligible immigrants would most likely enroll in the healthcare program if made available to them. This would mean the cost of covering the remaining people in the country illegally could drop to between $175 million and $455 million.

The report also goes on to examine how President Obama’s recent executive order offering deportation relief to certain immigrants would affect the measure’s cost. For example – if the order, which is currently on hold due to a court injunction, is upheld, around 900,000 immigrants in the state would qualify, according to the analysis, and would, therefore, be eligible for Medi-Cal and other state programs.

Meanwhile, democratic leaders plan to unveil a number of new immigration-related proposals, including certain measures that would extend state-paid health coverage to those immigrants illegally in the country as well as offer more protection against deportation. Senate Bill 4 would do just that by extending Medi-Cal coverage to people who are in the country illegally.

Senator Ricardo Lara, author of SB 4, believes the analysis reflects an ongoing effort by the legislature to develop a realistic, cost-effective solution to providing healthcare for all Californians, regardless of their immigration status – in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act bill.

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