This issue brief published by The Commonwealth Fund describes the barriers that undocumented immigrants face in accessing health care insurance coverage. The issue brief was prepared by the University of California Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research.

The Affordable Care Act will significantly reduce the number of U.S. residents without health insurance and ensure appropriate access to health services, but the law specifically excludes one group from all its provisions: the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in this country.

Research nationally — and new data from California — show that undocumented residents are most often young, working adults who are in good health, but infrequently use health services. Projections show the health reform law will have little impact on health insurance coverage for such individuals, and excluding them from coverage under the law will create new financial pressures on safety-net hospitals.

Strategies for improving coverage and access for undocumented immigrants include: providing comprehensive insurance coverage to some or all undocumented immigrants; providing coverage for specified services; and decreasing the out-of-pocket health care costs of undocumented immigrants by increasing direct funding to providers who offer free or low-cost services.

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