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I’m an Immigrant, Do I Qualify For California Healthcare?

Young, Caucasian man shows healthcare information to an elderly immigrant man and illustrates who qualifies for california healthcare.

The state of California and the entire country as a whole contains millions of immigrants, both lawfully present or undocumented. In fact, you might be one of them. If you are an immigrant, you may be wondering if there is California healthcare available to you. The answer isn’t really simple, but there are many options out there depending on your eligibility.

There are a number of ways to get health insurance for non-citizens including health insurance for illegal immigrants. Here are some options that various immigrants can take advantage of in order to get California health insurance and general health coverage. Please note that the following information is subject to change and is applicable as of September 2017.

Affordable Care Act/Covered California

The Affordable Care Act and Covered California has its healthcare marketplace open to provide insurance for immigrants that are lawfully present within the United States. However, it doesn’t provide health insurance for undocumented immigrants. Immigrants are qualified to purchase plans through the ACA and California Care if they are under the following statuses:

  • Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR/Green Card holder)
  • Asylee
  • Refugee
  • Cuban/Haitian Entrant
  • Paroled into the U.S.
  • Conditional Entrant Granted before 1980
  • Battered Spouse, Child and Parent
  • Victim of Trafficking and his/her Spouse, Child, Sibling or Parent
  • Granted Withholding of Deportation or Withholding of Removal, under the immigration laws or under the Convention against Torture (CAT)
  • Individual with Non-immigrant Status, includes worker visas (such as H1, H-2A, H-2B), student visas, U-visa, T-visa, and other visas, and citizens of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
  • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
  • Deferred Action Status (Exception: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is not an eligible immigration status for applying for health insurance)
  • Lawful Temporary Resident
  • Administrative order staying removal issued by the Department of Homeland Security
  • Member of a federally-recognized Indian tribe or American Indian Born in Canada
  • Resident of American Samoa

It should be noted that while the ACA and Covered California does not allow undocumented immigrants apply for Marketplace plans, they do allow undocumented immigrants to apply for coverage on behalf of documented individuals. Also, undocumented immigrants can still apply for Medi-Cal through Covered California.


Medi-Cal, which is the state of California’s version of Medicaid, can provide a wide range of low-cost healthcare options for low-income lawful or undocumented immigrants. Health care such as pregnancy-related services can be provided to undocumented immigrants, but there are limitations compared to the documented immigrants’ health insurance. California also provides Medi-Cal for those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals law (DACA).

Student Health Plans

A great majority of colleges and universities require their students to have medical insurance. California students can typically sign up for a student health plan through their school, which typically doesn’t question an applicant’s immigration status and is generally affordable. Naturally, this option is limited to immigrants that are enrolled and attending schools of higher education.

Health Insurance Provided by Employers

Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, can be provided health insurance from their job if it is offered to them as a benefit from their employers. While this may not be an option for most, immigrants that work for a company that offers health insurance can sign up without having to disclose their immigration status.

Private Health Insurance

Private health insurance through an insurance carrier or broker is typically the most expensive option for immigrants, but it is openly available to them. Private plans typically don’t require applicants to disclose their immigration status. However, it should be noted that immigrants cannot take advantage of any potential tax credits or subsidies to help pay for coverage, whether it is through the ACA/Covered California or not.

Community Health Centers

There a great number of health centers that are funded by federal grant money that can provide treatment for all regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. Many of these federally qualified health centers can provide primary healthcare, mental healthcare, dental, and pharmacy services at a low-cost, even for free in some clinics. You can research to find your local branches that serve your county or find a federally vetted health center at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.

Other Healthcare Outlets

Your eligibility may vary based on your immigration status, but there are a number of other healthcare options around the state of California. Residents of Los Angeles can get free healthcare through Healthy Way LA. Kaiser Permanente’s Child Health Program offers treatment for uninsured children, regardless of immigration status. There are some emergency options available for immigrants to get the treatment they need.

Getting proper health coverage can ultimately lead to a longer, more fulfilling life. You can get an affordable health plan through Covered California and Freeway Insurance. Call us at (800) 777-5620 or get a free health insurance quote online today to get started.

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