Obamacare Coverage About to End for People With Citizenship/Immigration Inconsistencies

By Susan Jones | August 13, 2014 | 10:08 AM EDT

One of the early Healthcare.gov portals. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The Health and Human Services Department says 310,000 people in 36 states will lose their Obamacare coverage on Sept. 30 unless they submit information proving they are U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents.

The Federal Health Insurance Marketplace began sending notices this week to consumers who have not yet responded to previous requests for proof of citizenship or immigration status.

"Consumers who have not yet responded must act now and submit supporting documents by September 5 or their Marketplace coverage will end on September 30," says the notice posted at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of HHS.

The requests are going out to 310,000 people in the 36 states that do not have their own health insurances exchanges. States such as California that set up marketplaces are doing their own separate data-matching.  

Federal requests for citizenship and immigration documentation are mostly going to states with high immigrant (and illegal alien) populations: At the top of the list is Florida, with 93,800 requests; Texas, 52,700; Georgia, 20,900; Virginia, 13,900; Pennsylvania, 12.600; North Carolina, 12,300; and Illinois, 10,300.  

At the bottom of the list are North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming: Letters requesting proof of immigration status are going to only 300 people in each of those states.

“Over the last several weeks, the Marketplace has reminded affected enrollees in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace via mail, email, and phone to send in their supporting documents so they can keep their Marketplace coverage, and insurance companies have reached out directly to these customers as well,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

“The good news is that many have responded — we’ve closed about 450,000 of these cases and have an additional 210,000 cases in progress. However, some still have not responded."

Tavenner said CMS has "worked hard" to reach each affected: "Specifically the Marketplace has asked consumers five to seven times — via mail, phone and email — to submit their information."

The outreach has produced results: In May, there were around 970,000 people with citizenship or immigration data-matching errors, compared with the current 310,000. But CMS has not said how many of the initial 970,000, to date, have been disqualified because they are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Tavenner said CMS wants as many consumers as possible to remain enrolled in Marketplace coverage, "so we are giving these individuals a last chance to submit their documents before their coverage through the Marketplace will end.”

CMS said it will continue reaching out to the 310,000 individuals with two more calls and one more email before the September 5 deadline. Notices are being sent in English and Spanish and provide straightforward instructions on how to submit the necessary information.

A citizenship or immigration inconsistency can happen when the information reported on the health insurance application, such as a Social Security or Permanent Resident Card number, is incomplete or different than the information the government has on file. 

CMS notes that a data inconsistency does not necessarily mean there is a problem with an individual’s eligibility for enrollment; it means that additional information is needed to verify the information provided in an application.

Immigration "inconsistencies" come first: CMS says consumers who have outstanding income verification issues will hear from the Marketplace at a later date.