The California state Senate has moved along a bill that would offer health benefits to some resident undocumented immigrants. This is the first state to make this move.
This could potentially come at a cost of $1 billion, according to the Times of San Diego.
Introduced by Democratic Sen. Maria Durazo, Senate Bill 29 passed Wednesday 24-11 and expands the funding for healthcare services to those aged 19 to 25 who currently qualify for partial coverage under the state’s Medi-Cal program.
"California is attempting to reduce its number of uninsured by covering a segment of its population that is largely ignored by the rest of the country," says Don Hall, principal at DeltaSigma a healthcare consulting firm and Managed Healthcare Executive editorial advisor. "It's important to understand that the reality of this action is to provide a mechanism for paying providers who care for these and in many cases have previously cared for them without reimbursement."
“This push to expand coverage to all, documented or undocumented residents, should help provide these individuals with the wherewithal to seek out appropriate treatment,” says Annette Bechtold, SVP of regulatory affairs and reform initiatives at OneDigital, a company headquartered in Atlanta that focused on employee benefits and human resources.
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“If coupled with education and encouragement of preventive care and early treatment, this program could help individuals improve their health and outcomes,” Bechtold says. “This, in turn, promotes healthier individuals in the community and lower costs to the overall healthcare system.”
Financing healthcare is a challenge, says Bechtold. “The cost of medical goods and services continues to escalate. For many, these costs prevent them from seeking the treatment they need,” she says. “This delay in treatment often results in more expensive treatment at the later stages of an illness or injury.
“I think we can all agree that early access to healthcare is important. It provides the individual with diagnosis and treatment, enabling earlier management of illness or injury, thereby lessening the frequency and cost of care. This helps the individual, the community, and the overall healthcare system,” Bechtold continues.
Insurance coverage is the most popular way to pay for healthcare services, she says. “Individuals without a healthy bank account, or access to good health insurance coverage, lack the funds and direction necessary for early treatment,” Bechtold says.
While some worry how this will affect employers, Jamie Webb-Akasaka, VP legal counsel, HR Consulting, OneDigital, says there most likely won’t be any direct impact.