Local News

ACA event helps migrant workers sign up for health insurance

Posted July 12, 2015

— After picking fruits and vegetables from North Carolina fields for 17 years, Alfredo Montoya now has health insurance.

The 48-year-old father of four from Mexico was at Episcopal Farmworker Ministry in Dunn on Sunday to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act at an event sponsored by Get Covered America and the North Carolina Farmworkers Project.

Though the ACA open enrollment period has passed, those experiencing certain life events – including marriage, moving or a change in immigration status – may be eligible for a special enrollment period.

Those like Montoya, who enter the United States on an agricultural work visa, are eligible under the special enrollment period.

"Here in Eastern North Carolina, where the tobacco grows tall and lush, Mexican farm workers arrive in healthy numbers every summer, and they say signing up will help keep them healthy," said Caitlin Metzguer with Enroll America.

Workers must sign up within 60 days of arriving in North Carolina. Once enrolled, their health plan covers basic care – doctor’s visits, physicals and hospital stays. The average cost for health insurance is $80 a month.

“The great news in North Carolina is that 93 percent of the people that enrolled get that financial assistance to help pay for it,” Metzguer said.

For Montoya, he says having health insurance gives him peace of mind while doing “hard, hot” work.


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  • Greg Dail Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    Let's the good times roll.
    Oh well, as Reagan said freedom is only one generation away from dying. I did my part and I lived with my choices both good and bad. It's somebody else's problem now. Best learn Mexkin is all I can say.

  • Maureen Wilson Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    The single North Carolinians that I know are paying at least $400.00/mo. and couples are paying at least twice this amount. How migrant farmworkers are paying only $80.00/mo. ?!?!? This points to probable U.S. taxpayer subsidies. Willing to bet these workers use their insurance more than those of us who are actually funding it.

  • John Flowe Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    Based on the information provided of $320 a week, for 6 months, a 30 yr old male would make $8320 a year. I searched the ACA web site and used zip code 28501, Lenior County, many farms, many migrant workers. The ACA said I would not be eligible for a subsidy. The cheapest plan was $202 a month with a $6600 deductible. The most expensive was $361 a month with a $200 deductible, both BC/BS plans. So how are these people enrolling if they don't get a subsidy. Certainly they can't afford a $200 or $360 a month in premium based on their income. So how is this happening? My guess is they over estimate the income to qualify for a subsidy, paid by taxpayers, stay their 6 months and go home. With good ol USA picking up the tab. There is nothing Affordable about the ACA plans.

  • Gen Lee Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    You honestly think $80 a month is going to cover thousands in hospital stays (if they have to). We will be paying for the rest.
    This is the first step of overtaking insurance companies. It starts to become a monopoly. The ones who have health insurance with other companies, their premiums and costs will go through the roof.
    The right is really not opposed to it. They would take it over and do it their way.

  • Ching Lee Jul 13, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    I'm not sure about the "can't afford to pay" part. The illegal that caused the accident, driving drunk with no license managed to come up with 7-8 grand to post bail.

  • Raleigh Rose Jul 13, 2015
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    It is better for these migrant workers to have healthcare. Otherwise, when they are here and need medical care they go to the ER where they will be treated, but then normally can't afford to pay. You know who picks up that tab? We do. This is one of the reasons that health care costs were getting so high. People who can't afford health insurance go to the ER, get treated, don't pay and the hospitals transfer the cost to the rest of us. Everyone having insurance makes the individual responsible. I'm not sure why the right is so opposed to the ACA. Its was a GOP idea. It makes the individual responsible for their own care and costs. It is not socialism. If it were socialism then the insurance companies would have been taken over by the govt-think the UK or Canada. Yes, there are subsidies, but I would be willing to bet they are cheaper than what we were doing before.

  • Dan May Jul 13, 2015
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    It does not seem right or fair to award heavily subsidized health insurance to non-citizens that are only here on a temporary basis. While working middle class US citizens see their health insurance rates rise to unaffordable level and are asked to foot the bill for others, now we have to pay for non-citizens free benefits as well?

    Did anyone see where BCBSNC got their first Obamacare windfall for 2014, to the tune of approx. $300 million?!! This is over and above premiums collected. Other insurers are reaping similar awards. All taxpayer money. When will folks wake up to who is really benefitting from the Obamacare scam? You will have to go to N&O to read. WRAL never reported it.

  • Gen Lee Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    You know most of those migrant workers are here on visas so they technically aren't even citizens. so why should non-citizens get healthcare at our expense.
    There are plenty of young adults that do it. You have to go to big farms to find them though. And now there are laws regulating farm work for young adults.

  • Terry Lightfoot Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    All posters on here, including myself, should remember that those blueberries we eat from Cotter Farms ( year round) and those pickles from Mt Olive are picked by migrant workers in back breaking work. ( this is work that an American young adult would do?? please!!)
    We are so ungrateful as a nation that we whine about everything. We should ask God's forgiveness.

  • Mannin Black Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    I am really starting to think that I need to find me a lower paying job just so I can afford health insurance.