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Immigrants Face New ID And Fraud Challenges Under Federal Healthcare Reform

U.S. healthcare reform will require immigrants to provide proof of their identity in order to purchase coverage from state insurance exchanges — but lack of clear official instructions may leave immigrants vulnerable to con artists seeking to exploit them by offering false healthcare information.

Many immigrants — including those who lawfully reside in the U.S. — are reluctant to seek out health coverage because they don’t understand the eligibility requirements or aren’t sure what proof of identity is required under the new rules, said Sonal Ambegaokar, health policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles. As a result, con artists may attempt to exploit the new healthcare ID requirements by charging immigrant victims for misleading information about health coverage — similar to how ‘Notarios’ target immigrants with offers of phony legal advice or immigration services. “There’s always a market for these kind of fraudulent schemes,” Ambegaokar said.

State exchanges that allow people to purchase affordable health insurance coverage are scheduled to be set up by 2013. Ambegaokar said that while the federal government will likely provide minimum identification requirements for immigrants to obtain coverage, individual state rules will vary, and new guidelines will continue to be developed in the coming months.

Ambegaokar urged everyone who will be affected by these changes — immigrants as well as Notaries and other healthcare professionals — to familiarize themselves with new immigrant healthcare ID rule updates as they are made available. “It’s advisable for Notaries to keep abreast of developments in the next year or two,” she said. U.S. government information on healthcare reform can be found here.

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