Immigrants typically have limited options when it comes to health insurance coverage. With the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of access to subsidized exchange coverage for non-elderly, lawfully present immigrants whose income falls within 133% of federal poverty level without employer-sponsored plans, more immigrants now have access to health coverage through exchange coverage subsidized exchange coverage than before.
However, the Affordable Care Act does not expand exchange subsidies or Medicaid coverage for undocumented immigrants; some states offer short-term plans specifically targeting this population.
Immigrants can enroll in private plans
Immigrants may enroll in private plans offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), by paying an insurance company a premium and then having them cover some or all of the cost of health services for which a person requires coverage. People “lawfully present” in the US may access these plans and benefit from tax credits to make them more cost-effective.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), immigrants can purchase full-price ACA-compliant coverage through their state exchange, and qualify for premium subsidies. Unfortunately, many are unaware of this fact; those with lawfully present status who wish to enroll within 60 days of having changed status should take advantage of an enrollment period and do so immediately after lawfully present status is awarded can take advantage of special enrollment periods to do so and enroll within these time frames.
Immigrants may also secure employer-sponsored coverage or enroll in their school’s student health insurance plan, which typically offers coverage regardless of immigration status. Some states are expanding fully state-funded health coverage for immigrants, which studies suggest can lower uninsurance rates and improve health outcomes.
Immigrants can receive premium subsidies
ACA allows noncitizens to purchase health insurance through state exchanges even if they’re not citizens, provided that they meet certain eligibility requirements or can qualify for premium subsidies to gain coverage.
Noncitizens typically lack access to affordable coverage options; however, some states are taking steps to fill the void. California offers Medi-Cal coverage regardless of immigration status for individuals meeting economic eligibility rules; furthermore, programs using state funds subsidize private insurance bought outside of the ACA marketplace.
Research demonstrates that expanding coverage to immigrants can significantly lower uninsurance rates and improve health outcomes, particularly among children residing in states that extended Medicaid to all families regardless of eligibility status; such children were less likely to go without needed healthcare or use emergency rooms for routine services compared with children living elsewhere; unfortunately, however, the Affordable Care Act does not permit non-citizens to enroll in exchange plans nor receive federal premium subsidies.
Immigrants can receive Medicaid
Many immigrants in the US have access to health insurance through private plans and employer-sponsored coverage; however, enrollment can often be restricted based on immigration status and other factors. Changes to immigration policy often cause fear among families about enrolling for public benefits like Medicaid and CHIP coverage causing some families to forgo coverage altogether.
Lawfully present immigrants can purchase private plans through the Affordable Care Act exchange and receive premium subsidies to assist with covering the costs. Usually these subsidies are restricted to individuals whose income falls below poverty threshold, though some states are starting programs using state funds to subsidize coverage for low-income immigrants regardless of immigration status.
Some colleges and universities provide health insurance plans to all their students regardless of immigration status, with enrollment periods available during qualifying events or when experiencing special hardship.
Immigrants can receive short-term coverage
Since April 2009, states have had the power to decide whether lawfully-present immigrants can purchase private health insurance on the individual market at full price; as of 2022, 35 states had chosen this option for both adults and children. Furthermore, under the Affordable Care Act states could also extend state-funded coverage if their eligibility requirements were met.
Legally-present immigrants who meet poverty level income requirements can purchase coverage through exchanges and receive premium subsidies provided their income falls below it. The Affordable Care Act specifically made this provision available for recent immigrants unable to enroll in Medicaid or other affordable options.
Short-term plans tend to be less comprehensive than Affordable Care Act-compliant plans, yet still provide better coverage than nothing. Furthermore, enrollment into short-term plans doesn’t require verifying immigration status and they allow enrollment outside open enrollment if an enrollee experiences a qualifying event. Furthermore, short-term plans tend to be cheaper.