Legal immigrants to the United States may be able to obtain health insurance in three different ways. In some cases, like New Jersey’s FamilyCare, immigrants must be in the United States for five years before qualifying for a plan. Most immigrants in the United States legally will find that they are eligible for some form of health insurance.
Affordable Care Act
Immigrants making less than 138% of the federal poverty level qualify for subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The subsidies may completely cover the cost of their healthcare. New citizens have 60 days to choose their healthcare plan. In most cases, they can also purchase a plan annually from November 1 to January 15. While Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigrants are considered legal immigrants, they do not qualify for Affordable Care Act plans.
Immigrants that are gainfully employed in the United States may qualify for their employer’s healthcare plans. They may also be covered under their spouse’s plan if their employer offers insurance benefits. Wealthy immigrants may also be able to purchase insurance through private companies.
In some states, state plans can cover immigrants as soon as they arrive legally, but that differs in New Jersey and some other states. In New Jersey, immigrants can still receive care under the Medical Emergency Payment Program. In that case, they go to the hospital, which files special paperwork covering the payments, which the County Welfare Agency must approve. Once approved, the immigrant is covered under Medicaid.
Immigrants can obtain health insurance in the United States in various ways, including federal, state and employee plans.