DACA Recipients gain Access to the ACA Marketplace

ilj branded daca insurance update website eng (800 x 600 px)

By Hannah Smalley
ILJ Network Advocacy Consultant &
Advocacy and Education Coordinator,
Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors

ILJ Network welcomes the Biden administration’s new rule allowing DACA recipients to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. The change is long overdue, highlighting the program’s limitations and urgent need for congressional action. 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010 to make health insurance more affordable, but previous implementation guidelines explicitly barred DACA recipients. For their entire working lives, they have been paying taxes to support an affordable healthcare system that excluded them.

A 2022 survey of DACA recipients found that 48% had delayed receiving medical care due to their immigration status.  

Under the new rule, DACA recipients can purchase health insurance through their federal or state ACA Marketplace and access the same subsidies as other buyers. The Biden administration estimates this change will help 100,000 DACA Dreamers get health insurance coverage. The new rule also eliminates gaps in eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile status grantees, asylum applicants younger than 14, and certain green card applicants.

An accompanying rule change proposed but not adopted by the administration would have allowed DACA recipients to access Medicaid and CHIP

The rule takes effect on November 1 to coincide with the ACA health insurance open enrollment period from November 1-January 15. 

Created in 2012 by executive action, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has provided work permits and protection from deportation to over 800,000 people who were brought to the United States as children. DACA recipients must renew their status every two years, and the program has faced several legal challenges that leave their futures uncertain. 

Even as we celebrate improved healthcare access for DACA recipients, we remain concerned that Congressional inaction leaves their health and livelihoods vulnerable to the whims of each presidential administration. We call on Congress to legislate pathways to citizenship for all. 

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