Immigration Status and Health Coverage

Most Immigrants Qualify for Health Coverage

Under the Affordable Care Act, most immigrants qualify for health coverage, including the following groups: 

  • Lawful permanent residents or (“green card holders”).
  • Lawful temporary residents.
  • Persons fleeing persecution, including refugees and asylees.
  • Other humanitarian immigrants, including those granted temporary protected status.
  • Non-immigrant status holders (including worker visas and student visas).

Everyone Can Apply

Both lawfully present and not lawfully present individuals can apply through Covered California to see if they are eligible for a health plan through Covered California or Medi-Cal. There is no “waiting period” or “five-year bar.”

Immigrants who are not lawfully present do not qualify for a health plan through Covered California; however, they may qualify for coverage through Medi-Cal up to age 19 or for pregnancy coverage. Immigrants who are not lawfully present can also buy private health insurance on their own outside of Covered California. Additionally, some counties offer other health care options for immigrants who are not lawfully present.

Financial Help

Lawfully present individuals who meet all other eligibility requirements, such as income requirements and California state residency, may be eligible for financial assistance to purchase a health insurance plan through Covered California. Or they may be eligible for free or low-cost coverage through Medi-Cal.

Families With Mixed Immigration Status

All family members must be listed on the application, regardless of their immigration status or whether they are seeking coverage. We need this information to understand income and family size in order to calculate financial assistance and determine program eligibility. All information provided on the application is confidential. 

Documents to Prove Immigration Status

If immigration status cannot be confirmed electronically, applicants will need to provide documents to show their immigration status.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Individuals who are under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are not considered lawfully present. They are not eligible to purchase a health plan through Covered California or to receive financial assistance. They may be eligible for Medi-Cal, however, and can apply for Medi-Cal through Covered California or at a county social services office.

Public Charge

The term public charge describes someone who is heavily dependent on government assistance. A new federal law regarding public charge was proposed in 2019, but courts have preliminarily prevented it from going into effect nationwide. You can read more about this issue on the California Health and Human Services website.