Estimates suggest that over 10 million undocumented immigrants are living in the United States; this poses a serious challenge as medical care for undocumented immigrants presents a complicated maze.
Existing immigrant health care coverage at subsidized rates is only available for lawfully authorized immigrants in the United States.
Therefore, undocumented immigrants cannot purchase marketplace health care coverage, and may not enjoy cost savings on marketplace plans or premium tax credits. Illegal immigrant health care has no provisions for access to Medicare, Medicaid, or other federally-sponsored plans.
Nevertheless, some states make provisions for medical care for undocumented immigrants by providing state-funded plans to cover income-eligible children regardless of their immigration status. The California immigrant health care also makes provisions for income-eligible young undocumented immigrant children and adults below 25 years.
Medical Care for Undocumented Immigrants
Although options are limited, there are three main options for medical care for undocumented immigrants. These includes:
1. Purchasing Private Health Insurance Since undocumented immigrants cannot access federally funded plans, they can buy health insurance plans outside the ACA marketplace. However, many of these plans are quite expensive, and most undocumented immigrants may not be able to afford this option. 2. Seek Emergency Care Most undocumented immigrants prefer to go without healthcare needs until they require emergency care. Medicare makes provisions to offset costs borne by hospitals for caring for undocumented immigrants. This is available irrespective of their residency or insurance status.
3. Low-Cost Primary Care Community health centers may provide low-cost care medical care for undocumented immigrants. However, these cover preventive and primary care with no access to specialty services.
Private insurance is the ideal medical care option for illegal immigrants because it provides access to their comprehensive health care needs. However, it is also the most expensive because it is not as subsidized as its counterparts.
Moreover, there are new movements to expand coverage to as many people as possible, regardless of citizenship status. The California immigrant healthcare provision is a positive first step. There is even talk of expanding coverage to undocumented immigrants above 65 years. This gives us a bit of hope that in the nearest future, there might be better health insurance options for undocumented immigrants.