Many Immigrants Hesitate to Seek Health Insurance

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HOUSTON (AP) The new health insurance system is stoking fears among immigrant families that applying for coverage could draw the attention of immigration authorities.

Immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally cannot participate in the system. But many of them have relatives who are American citizens or legal residents and are eligible.

Since the system debuted in October, immigrant advocates and federal officials have been working to reassure families that insurance information will not be shared with enforcement agencies.

The effort has brought changes in the main health care website and a memo from immigration authorities promising not to go after anyone based on insurance paperwork. Of the nearly 40 million people in the U.S. who were born elsewhere, about a third lack health insurance.