More than 200,000 immigrants who bought insurance through President Barack Obama's health care initiative could lose their coverage this month if they don't submit proof this week they are legally in the country, but language barriers and computer glitches are hindering efforts to alert them.
The government mailed letters in English and Spanish last month notifying about 300,000 people that if immigration and citizenship documents aren't submitted by Friday, their coverage under the Affordable Care Act will end Sept. 30.
However, few seem to be responding. U.S. Health and Human Services officials released information Tuesday showing that 239,000 of the original 300,000 were still receiving final notices.
Immigration advocates say the notices in only two languages don't take into account the wide variety of immigrant languages. They say many who received the letters already have filed the documents either by mail or via computer, but the paperwork was not processed. And they fear most who haven't responded don't understand the gravity of the situation or think they have already complied.
A line at the bottom of the letter advises the recipients to call a phone number if they need the notice translated, said Amy Jones of the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition Inc. in Philadelphia.
"People do not know what they say or that they're important. Many have been putting them aside or throwing them away," Jones said. Her agency, which has helped 450 immigrants sign up for health insurance under the new law, is calling enrollees to see if they received a letter and help them keep their coverage.