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¿How to get health insurance as an immigrant in the United States?

How to get health insurance as an immigrant in the United States

I want to explain clearly what are the requirements to obtain health insurance as an immigrant in the United States; For this I have resorted to the website of info procedures usa, where the complete information on the procedures necessary to live or travel to the USA is detailed.

¿How to get health insurance as an immigrant in the United States?
¿How to get health insurance as an immigrant in the United States?

Immigrant Law

Many immigrants living in the United States are not aware of their rights to health care and health insurance coverage. For this reason, these rights are detailed below:

  1. Free help from a language interpreter: Every patient has the right to receive free help from a language interpreter while receiving medical assistance or when applying for health insurance. If the health professional does not speak the same language, the patient has the right to be assisted by an interpreter and at no cost. Hospitals and community health centers have bilingual staff, telephone interpretation services, or trained in-person interpreters to assist the patient.
  2. Immigration status: it is not necessary to prove migratory status, the personnel of the health centers must be concerned about health and not about migratory status. Patients can request medical assistance with the peace of mind that their personal data will be private. Immigration status is not a barrier to receiving care.
  3. Personal data: the personal data that the patient provides when applying for health programs is kept private. Health insurance companies such as: Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) or ACA use personal data only to determine eligibility or run the program; but such data cannot be shared with immigration control.
  4. Photo ID: Administrative staff, doctors and nurses often ask for a photo ID, but this is only to verify that the person receiving the treatment is the same as the one listed in the medical records or on a prescription. If the patient does not have such a photo ID, you can say, «I need medical care, but I don’t have a photo ID»; and must be taken care of.
  5. Affordable Care Act (“ACA”): Many immigrants do qualify for health insurance from; will have insurance payment assistance under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). For this benefit you must be legally in the United States and qualify based on income.
  6. Government health insurance: if a patient receives government health insurance and uses health services; this will not affect immigration status. There is an exception for people receiving long-term care in a government-run facility; as these people may face obstacles in obtaining a green card.
  7. Emergency Health Services: Hospital emergency rooms and community health centers are required to serve everyone who needs emergency services. These institutions must assist the immigrant community with or without health insurance, including undocumented immigrants, without the need to request immigration documents. Clinics in the United States can be found by searching by geographic area or zip code where the person resides.
  8. Application for health care for another person: to apply for health insurance or health care for another person, (example: child, husband, wife), it is not necessary to provide immigration status; Only the data of the member for whom coverage is requested should be provided. Even if you are undocumented and applying for your child or another member, you will not need to provide any immigration information. For such a case you can say or write, «I do not request this program for myself.»
¿Cómo obtener un seguro de salud siendo inmigrante en los Estados Unidos?
¿How to get health insurance as an immigrant in the United States?

United States health insurance

There are three ways to obtain medical coverage in the United States and they are through:


  1. Private insurance offered by employers.
  2. Medical Insurance Market.
  3. Low budget public health plans.

Within the forms mentioned above, the most well-known and chosen medical insurances by the North American community are detailed:

  1. Health Insurance Marketplace: Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).
  2. Medicaid.
  3. CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).
  4. Medicare.
  5. COBRA: Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) that allows the primary member and their family to keep, for a limited time, the group health plan or health insurance they received while employed.

1. Health Insurance Marketplace

The Affordable Care Act helps families and individuals obtain health insurance regardless of income or medical history. The Health Insurance Marketplace allows you to search and compare policies that offer medical, dental and vision coverage, as well as discounts on medications and hospital services, among other things.


The requirements to obtain insurance through the Marketplace are:

  • Live in united states.
  • Be a US citizen by birth or naturalized.
  • Be a permanent resident with a «Green Card» or green card.
  • Lawfully present in the US: includes immigrants 1)“Qualifying non-citizens” with no waiting period; 2) With humanitarian status or special circumstances (eg Temporary Protected Status, Special Status for Youth, asylum seekers, protected by the Convention against Torture and victims of human trafficking); 3) With a valid nonimmigrant visa and 4) With legal status granted by other laws (temporary resident status, LIFE Act, Family Unity).
  • Not be incarcerated.

2. Medicaid

Medicaid is a federal and state health insurance program for people with low incomes. This health insurance provides free or low-cost health coverage to the following people:


  • Low-income adults.
  • Kids.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Adults over 65 years.
  • People with disabilities.
  • Be a US citizen or permanent resident (“Green Card”).

3. CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program)

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offers health coverage for children. This insurance covers medical and dental care for uninsured children and teens up to age 19. To be eligible, the child’s family income must be:


  • Too high to be eligible for Medicaid.
  • Too low to qualify for private health coverage.
¿How to get health insurance as an immigrant in the United States?
¿How to get health insurance as an immigrant in the United States?

4. Medicare

Medicare is the basic health insurance program in the United States for people 65 and older; people with disabilities or people with end-stage renal disease.


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you and your family to keep, for a limited time, the group health plan or health insurance you received while you were employed.

The basic requirements to be eligible to elect COBRA are:


  • The group plan (the health insurance offered by your employer) must be covered by COBRA.
  • A qualifying event must occur (for example, voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in hours worked, transition between jobs, death, or divorce).
  • Be a qualified beneficiary.

¿Is the health system in the United States complex?

The United States is famous for having a complex and inaccessible health system; and this is due to the lack of information; That is why it is necessary to seek advice, consult reliable sources and thus be able to access health insurance to receive the corresponding medical care.

Lots of immigrants; the majority of Latin origin; are in the United States living without health insurance; situation that causes living in constant stress and fear. For this reason; The purpose of this article is to encourage the population to consult with medical insurance specialists and thus understand the American health system.

¿How to get health insurance as an immigrant in the United States?

Author information
  1. Plazas Lorena. Lic. en Enfermería. Trabajo propio.
Sources consulted
  1. Info Tramites USA.
  2. Protecting Immigrant Families, 2021, Derechos de los inmigrantes para la atención médica: tratamiento y cobertura. Disponible en:

Last update: [ 09/17/2022 ]

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