Double Standard in Obamacare Favors Illegals

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on July 8, 2013

The Obama administration is rushing to get its signature health law implemented — and it treats illegal aliens better than native-born Americans. Starting in 2014, key elements of Obamacare take effect, including the individual mandate to have health insurance or else pay a fine.

A recent implementation rule finalizes aspects of handling exemptions from the individual mandate, which generally requires everyone to have health insurance or enroll in Medicaid. Of most interest here, illegal aliens remain exempt from this insurance mandate.

Regulations proposed earlier this year eased the ability of illegal aliens to beat the system, despite being barred from eligibility for Medicaid and the taxpayer premium subsidy.

Uninsured illegals won't face the consequences that American citizens will face if they don't obtain health insurance. Such "nonexempt individual[s]" must "maintain minimum essential coverage" — that is, pay for government-approved insurance that could be more expensive and cover more services than the person wants — "or make a shared responsibility payment", that is, pay a fine — or "tax" as the Supreme Court designated the fine.

If illegal aliens face no insurance mandate and no penalty for being uninsured, that means they are freer than American citizens, whom the government is compelling to buy health coverage or else. Granted, illegals aren't supposed to be able to enroll in the Medicaid welfare program or collect a subsidy under Obamacare. But illegals can still get "free" health care (i.e., paid for by taxpayers or private insurers, or written off as bad debt by providers) in emergencies. Their U.S. citizen children qualify for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. And the earlier rule makes it much easier for illegals to defraud the system. Plus, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) explained how the amnesty plus Obamacare would make it more attractive for employers to fire American workers and hire newly amnestied foreign workers.

This leaves American citizens bearing a heavy burden, both for compliance and actual costs, while illegals get preferential treatment. It only worsens if Congress passes an amnesty. The Obama-Rubio-Reid amnesty bill, S. 744, eventually qualifies illegals for Medicaid. Senators rejected the notion of removing this icing on the amnesty cake. Meanwhile, intermediate amnesty status leaves illegal alien beneficiaries essentially where they are — no health insurance mandate, no penalties, and "free" health care when they want it. The chances the amnesty recipients would obtain health insurance on their own accord, like responsible citizens, is about the same as the chances they'll actually pay their back taxes.