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12,300 in NC need immigration papers to keep health insurance

About 12,300 North Carolinians risk losing recently obtained health insurance unless they provide citizenship and immigration documents soon, the federal government said this week. That’s the sixth-highest total in the country.

Advocates are working to reach those who have failed to respond to letters, emails and phone calls. For instance, Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont has Spanish-speaking health insurance navigators stationed at Charlotte’s International House on Mondays and at the Latin American Coalition on Tuesdays.

Across the country, about 310,000 people need to provide citizenship or immigration documents by Sept. 5 to keep the coverage they got through marketplaces set up under the Affordable Care Act.

Almost half on that list hail from the Southeastern seaboard: Florida (93,800), Georgia (20,900), Virginia (13,900), North Carolina (12,300) and South Carolina (4,800).

People who are in the United States illegally aren’t eligible for subsidized health insurance, but immigrants who have green cards or other types of legal status are. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services flagged applications that didn’t match information in government files.

In May, the federal government began seeking additional documentation for about 970,000 people with citizenship or immigration issues. After half a dozen attempts to reach applicants and clear up the discrepancies, that was down to about 310,000. Letters went out this week notifying those people that if they have not gotten clarifying documents by Sept. 5, their insurance will be canceled at the end of September.

Madison Hardee, an attorney with Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, and Sorien Schmidt, executive director of North Carolina’s Get Covered America campaign, said navigators are trying to reinforce the message that getting a letter doesn’t necessarily mean losing coverage.

“We are encouraging consumers to act quickly and verify information with the marketplace as soon as possible,” Hardee said. “A navigator can help a consumer figure out what information is still missing and assist them with uploading the documents.”

Helms: 704-358-5033; Twitter: @anndosshelms This article is done in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
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