SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla.- The Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare," has had its problems the past few months, and adding to the confusion is the provision mandates that immigrants have a plan as well, or risk being penalized.
“The Affordable Care Act does apply to anyone who is legally present in the United States, so that includes obviously U.S. citizens, permanent residents, but also people here with temporary visas,” says Victoria Karins.
Victoria Karins is a well-known immigration attorney at Jaensch Immigration Law Firm, in Sarasota county. She tells us the mandate may affect the economy here on the Suncoast.
“This may be one more thing that could possibly lead our snowbirds and other tourists that we rely on to go somewhere else. If it's something that's going to increase expenses and not benefit them, I think it's a factor that they'll take into consideration when deciding where they want to spend their tourism dollars, “said Karins.
We asked a couple from Scotland, who visit the Suncoast a few times a year, if they would consider buying a second home here despite the new mandate.
“It would stop us from coming because we have free national health service. When we come here on vacation we have to pay, so if coming to stay longer, we'd be paying even more money,” said Marion Elder, a tourist from Scotland.
However, some say it would be a dream to live in the United States and would want the coverage.
“We are prepared to pay, but within limits. It depends on how much it would cost for the health insurance,” said Bill Wiggs, visiting from England.
According to the latest census data, immigrants made up 12.2% of Manatee County's population and 11.5% in Sarasota County. That's more than 88,000 immigrants on the Suncoast, most of whom are migrant agricultural workers or have a second home here and both groups help fuel our economy.
Immigration law firms and insurance groups like, Professional Benefits Inc. in Sarasota, are great resources here on the Suncoast to help guide immigrants that have further questions.