Latest Data Shows DACA Recipients Continue To Face Barriers To Affordable Health Care

June 3, 2024

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Adrian Escárate, 202-609-9976
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

Latest Data Shows DACA Recipients Continue To Face Barriers To Affordable Health Care

Expansion of Affordable Care Act coverage can significantly address hurdles for DACA recipients

WASHINGTON — A report published today by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) shows that one out of five Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are not covered by any kind of health insurance or health care plan, representing a continued trend of DACA recipients being uninsured at much higher rates than the general U.S. population. Last month, the Biden administration expanded health care coverage for DACA recipients by allowing them to enroll in Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans starting November 1, 2024 after years of advocacy. The expansion of ACA coverage for DACA recipients, if adequately implemented, represents an important step towards addressing the health disparities identified in this report.

“Finalizing the ACA eligibility rule is a critical step in creating pathways to health care options for DACA recipients without any coverage,” said Isobel Mohyeddin, policy coordinator at the National Immigration Law Center. “As this year’s data show, this important community faces gaps in coverage, high medical bills, and fear of seeking services. To address the disparities and barriers highlighted in the research report, we urge President Biden and HHS to adopt a robust public outreach and enrollment program to ensure all newly eligible people can enroll.”

This is the third annual report by NILC tracking DACA recipients’ access to health care. This report analyzes findings from a 2023 survey of 560 DACA recipients administered by Prof. Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego; United We Dream; the National Immigration Law Center; and the Center for American Progress. Top line findings include:

  • 20% of survey respondents indicated that they are not covered by any kind of health insurance or health care plan, nearly three times as much as the general U.S. population (7.7% in 2023)
  • 82% of respondents indicated that they receive health insurance through their employer, far higher than the general U.S. population (48.7% in 2022)
  • 44% of respondents without insurance were not aware of any affordable care or coverage options
  • 35% of respondents believe that they are ineligible due to their immigration status
  • 94% of respondents reported that without DACA, it would be more difficult to access critical services needed to keep themselves and their families healthy
  • 21% of respondents experienced worse mental and/or physical health conditions because of concerns related to their immigration status

Based on the survey results, the National Immigration Law Center urges Congress to pass legislation, such as the LIFT the BAR and HEAL for Immigrant Families Acts, repealing restrictions on immigrants’ eligibility for federal health insurance programs, and build on state successes in providing additional options for residents, regardless of immigration status. Additionally, NILC recommends that HHS expand grants and partnerships with community-based organizations in relationship with DACA recipients and other immigrant communities to help improve access to coverage and care, including education on the intersection of immigration status and health care access.

To view the full survey results, visit this link.