What Chicago Immigrants Should Know About the “Uninsured Ban”

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The U.S. Court of Appeals recently upheld the Trump administration’s “uninsured ban,” which prevents immigrants from entering the country without “approved” health insurance. There are several details that immigrants in Chicago should know about the uninsured ban and how it may affect them.

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What Is the Uninsured Ban?

The uninsured ban is an extension of 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f), which is a provision that enables the president to prevent immigrants from entering the country under the belief that they may compromise the interests of the United States. Specifically, the uninsured ban could prevent immigrants from entering the country if they don’t have an “approved” insurance plan that a government subsidy supports.

An “approved” healthcare plan is one that falls outside of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the Trump administration has notoriously opposed. While the ACA was intended to provide extensive coverage for people enrolled in the program and promote improved health with reduced long-term costs, the Trump administration implemented cheaper bare-bones plans that reduce costs through minimal coverage. As a result, many “approved” healthcare plans provide coverage only for particularly serious health conditions and not preventive care, such as routine checkups with doctors.

How the Uninsured Ban Makes It Harder to Gain Entry

Because of the definition of an “approved” plan under the uninsured ban, the ban prevents many from entering the U.S. who would otherwise qualify for visas, including sponsored spouses, other family members of U.S. citizens, and lawful permanent residents. The reason for this is many people working at minimum wage jobs don’t receive insurance coverage from employers. Subsequently, it’s extremely difficult for these citizens to sponsor family members unless those relatives can afford an “approved” plan.

Attempts to Reverse the Ban

Although many challengers argued against the uninsured ban because of its restrictive nature, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit still upheld the uninsured ban on December 31. Since more than 180 days have passed since the date the ban became effective on November 3, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be responsible for determining whether the ban is still required.

As of January, a new administration is in place under President Joe Biden, who may be able to reverse the ban in the near future in addition to other Trump-era policies surrounding immigration.