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Do Immigrants Qualify for Obamacare?

Do Immigrants Qualify for Obamacare?

Posted Mar 03, 2014 by Jenifer Dorsey

As of 2010, a record 40 million immigrants—legal and illegal – resided in the United States.1 Of them, 29 percent lacked health insurance, compared to 13.8 percent of U.S. residents. The Affordable Care Act may provide many of these immigrants and their families with access to health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and Medicaid expansion.

Most lawfully present immigrants are eligible to purchase health insurance coverage through the new Obamacare exchanges. As a matter of fact, under the Affordable Care Act, most lawfully present immigrants may also be:

  • Subject to the requirement that most Americans have health insurance or face a tax penalty
  • Eligible for income-based premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies—family size is also a factor in determining financial assistance; costs and tax credits with the healthedeals.comHealth Care Reform Calculator.
  • Qualified to receive Medicaid based on income—some states expanded Medicaid to those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level; an estimated 57 percent of uninsured non-citizens meet that income requirement, according to Kaiser Health News2

Lawfully present immigrants include those with3:

  • “Qualified non-citizen” immigration status without a waiting period (see the definition below)
  • 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 (temporary resident status, LIFE Act, Family Unity individuals)

For a more comprehensive list of immigration statuses that qualify for health insurance via the Obamacare marketplace, visit healthcare.gov/immigration-status-and-the-marketplace
What about immigrants not lawfully present in the U.S?
Those who are living in the United States illegally are not eligible to purchase health insurance through the state-based and federally facilitated exchanges, receive financial assistance for exchange-based coverage or enroll in Medicare, nonemergency Medicaid or CHIP. They are exempt from the individual mandate.  They are, under federal law, eligible for emergency care.

1Camarota, Steven A. (2012, August). "Immigrants in the United States, 2010: A Profile of America’s Foreign-Born Population. Center for Immigration Studies."
2Appleby, Julie. (2013, September 19). "FAQ: Obamacare and Coverage for Immigrants." Kaiser Health News.
3HealthCare.gov. (n.d.). "What do Immigrant Families Need to Know About the Marketplace?"

Jenifer Dorsey is a freelance writer whose specialties include health and fitness, wellness, sports and recreation. She is a competitive amateur track cyclist who also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping and other outdoor adventure. Jenifer received a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and is an MFA candidate at Naropa University. She lives in Colorado.