Immigrants' access to the Affordable Care Act

The National Council of la Raza reports that 10. 2 million Latinos are eligible for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Yet, there are still many questions regarding what types of immigration statuses are eligible and which are not.

In a nutshell, under ACA only “lawfully present” immigrants can qualify to either buy private health insurance through either their state or federal Marketplace or get it through employer-sponsored coverage. The term “lawfully present” are those immigrants who have any of the following:

“Qualified non-citizen” immigration status without a waiting period. The term “qualified non-citizen” includes:
  • Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR/Green Card Holder)
  • Asylees
  • Refugees
  • Cuban/Haitian entrants
  • Paroled into the U.S. for at least one year
  • Conditional entrant granted before 1980
  • Battered non-citizens, spouses, children, or parents
  • Victims of trafficking and his or her spouse, child, sibling, or parent or individuals with a pending application for a victim of trafficking visa
  • Granted withholding of deportation
  • Member of a federally recognized Indian tribe or American Indian born in Canada
To read more about the immigration statuses that qualify under ACA read: Immigration status and the Marketplace. You can also read the list in Spanish/Español here.
Humanitarian statuses or circumstances (including Temporary Protected Status, Special Juvenile Status, asylum applicants, Convention Against Torture, victims of trafficking)
Valid non-immigrant visas

Legal status conferred by other laws ( such as temporary resident status, LIFE Act, Family Unity individuals).

Accessing Medicaid as an Alternative

Immigrants who are “qualified non-citizens” may also be eligible for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage.  In order to be eligible for either coverage, most LPRs or green card holders have a 5-year waiting period where they must wait 5 years after receiving “qualified” immigration status before being eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. There are exceptions to this such as in the case of refugees and asylees or some states may remove the 5-year waiting period and cover lawfully residing children and/or pregnant women who are otherwise eligible for Medicaid.   Therefore, if you decide to get Medicaid make sure to check in with the Medicaid office in your state.  You can also click here to find out if your state has this option in place. People who don’t have eligible immigration status and therefore aren’t eligible for Medicaid may get Medicaid coverage for limited emergency services, if they meet all other Medicaid eligibility criteria in the state.

Disclosure of immigration status

Whether you chose to purchase health insurance through the federal and state marketplaces or register for Medicaid and CHIP, its important for you to know that you do not have to provide information about the citizenship or immigration status of any family or household members who are not applying for coverage. States also can’t deny you benefits if a family or household member who isn’t applying hasn’t disclosed his or her citizenship or immigration status.

At the same time, if you provide any state or federal agency your social security number or other information about your immigration status, you will not be denied benefits.  This information also can’t be used for any immigration enforcement purposes.

For more information regarding resources and the rights of immigrant families, click here.

For additional resources, check out:

Consumer Reports:
• English:  https://www.healthlawhelper.org/
(Click on “Find Out What You Need to Do”)
• Spanish/Español :
http://www.aseguratusalud.org/ (Click on
“Aprende Lo Que Necisitas Hacer”)

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