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Health Care Coverage for Immigrants: A Brief History And Update

Health Care Coverage for Immigrants: A Brief History And Update

The world of health care coverage for immigrants is loaded with misunderstandings. Obamacare raised a lot of questions about who taxpayer money was covering. Former President Obama wanted health care to be available for anyone who was in the country legally. A weak verification system made it available to a good portion of illegal immigrants as well.

Myth: Obamacare allows illegal immigrants access to tax-paid health care.

Fact: Under Obamacare, immigrants with visas or other legal standings have access to tax-paid health care.

The tricky part is how Obamacare saves illegal immigrants from deportation when they try to purchase health care. That’s something that Trump will likely remove.

$700 million in government health care costs went to undocumented immigrants under Obamacare. Obama insisted that his law prevented this, but the verification system was flawed.

Let’s look at what the health insurance world was like before Obamacare. There is a chance that the Trump administration will lead us right back to where we were.


Before The ACA and even before Obama’s election, children’s coverage was one of the major issues surrounding health care for illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrant’s children had access to health care until Former President George W. Bush vetoed the bill’s expansion in 2007. Bush mainly vetoed the bill for financial reasons. At other points during his presidency, he stated that a new plan for immigrant children was necessary but should not be tax-funded.

A year later, Barack Obama became president.

The ACA/Obamacare

Health care was one of Obama’s top priorities in the Oval Office. He wanted American citizens, nationals (almost always American Samoans), legal immigrants (visas, humanitarian statuses, etc.), and immigrant children to have easy access to insurance.

Qualified non-citizens, most commonly green-card holders, have to live in the United States for five years before they can receive Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Refugees and asylees are exceptions. States individually determine whether or not children and pregnant women need to wait.

View HealthCare.Gov’s full list of qualified groups.


President Trump has repeatedly stated that he wants to completely break down and restructure health care. Under Trump, illegal immigrants will not be safe from prosecution when they try to receive heath care. That part of the plan may soon include a provision that improves the eligibility verification system to prevent illegal immigrants from gaining access to Medicare and Medicaid.

Starting In California

In 2016, California began work on a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants access to the same health care as any legal citizen. Then, Trump became president. Consequently, California grew scared that health care revisions could leave undocumented immigrants in danger of deportation. Now, in 2017, several states and cities are calling themselves “sanctuaries,” refusing to report undocumented immigrants looking for health care.

Obamacare gave illegal immigrants access to government-funded health care. Though Trump’s plans are a little fuzzy right now, we know he’s not a fan of illegal immigrants having government benefits. Stay tuned for updates.