Immigrants and the Affordable Care Act: What You Need to know

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About 29 percent of Latinos in the United States have no health insurance, and more than 10 million — citizens and legal residents — are eligible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).But under the federal health care law, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for any assistance. They are excluded from receiving federal subsidies to buy health insurance, and they cannot shop for coverage in the health insurance marketplace.

However much Obama’s executive order may change the lives of these immigrants overnight, their health care issues will remain the same — as if the ACA never happened. Those who will be protected from deportation won’t be eligible to purchase subsidized coverage from the public health insurance marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).The act is meant to expand access to affordable health care coverage, but the law excludes one group from benefiting: the nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

The Urban Institute estimates that 25 percent of the people who will remain without health insurance once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented will be undocumented immigrants, making up the nation’s second-largest population of uninsured. With limited health care options, undocumented immigrants are turning to federally funded community health centers (FQHCs) and nonprofit organizations to get the medical care they need. A FQHC is a federally qualified health center that is a community-based and patient-directed organization providing health services to anyone, regardless of ability to pay.

According to the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut (CHCACT), nationwide there are over 1,200 community health centers. In Connecticut, there are 14 community health centers.Though the Affordable Care Act bars undocumented immigrants from being eligible for federally funded health coverage, undocumented immigrants are eligible for some services.

For example, they are eligible for emergency care under Medicaid if they meet certain requirements, like having a low income. Medicaid is a joint state-federal program that helps pay the health care costs of eligible non-citizens during the time of a medical emergency.Here is a full explanation of how immigrants were included in health care reform according to their legal status:

Immigrants and the Affordable Care Act


Same access and requirements for affordable coverage as U.S.-born citizens.


  • Limited federal coverage.
  • Subject to the individual mandate and related tax penalty (exempt if low-income or meet specific exemptions).
  • May enroll in a “qualified health plan (QHP) from the state insurance exchanges.
  • Eligible for premium tax credits and lower co-payments.
  • No waiting periods for enrolling in state insurance exchanges or premium tax credits.
  • Eligible for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) and the Basic Health Plan (when available in a state).

Current federal immigrant eligibility restrictions in Medicaid maintained, including the five-year-or-more waiting period for most lawfully residing, low-income immigrant adults. Health care coverage may be available to other immigrants in some states.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantees are ineligible for Medicaid, CHIP and ACA benefits.


Only those in a family who are applying for benefits are required to provide a Social Security number (SSN) and their immigration/citizenship status.

  • Citizenship or lawful presence must be verified for everyone enrolling in:
  • Private health insurance in the state exchanges.
  • Health insurance premium tax credits.
  • Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Status will be electronically verified through:
  • Social Security Administration (SSA) for citizens.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for non–U.S. citizens via the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database.
  • If unable to verify status electronically, enrollees have an opportunity to provide other documents or to fix the records.
  • Social Security number of a non-applicant may be requested to electronically verify household income. If unavailable, other proof of income can be provided.
  • Information about immigration status may be used only to determine an individual’s eligibility.


  • No federal coverage.
  • Not allowed to purchase private health insurance at full cost in state insurance exchange(s).
  • Not eligible for premium tax credits or lower co-payments.
  • Exempt from individual mandate.
  • Not eligible for Medicare, non-emergency Medicaid, or CHIP.
  • Remain eligible for emergency care under federal law.
  • Eligible for Emergency Medicaid if low-income.

Citizen or lawfully present children of undocumented parents are eligible:

  • To purchase from the state insurance exchange.
  • For premium tax credits and lower co-payments.
  • For Medicaid or CHIP.
  • May seek non-emergency health services at community health centers or safety-net hospitals.

List of federally funded community health centers in Tribuna’s coverage area:


Southwest Community Health Center



968 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport

1046 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport

361 Bird Street, Bridgeport

510 Clinton Avenue, Bridgeport

743 South Avenue, Bridgeport

46 Albion Street, Bridgeport



CIFC Greater Danbury Community Health Center



57 North Street, Suites 309-311, Danbury



StayWell Health Center



80 Phoenix Avenue, Waterbury

South End, 1302 South Main Street, Waterbury

Driggs School-Based Health Center, 77 Woodlawn Terrace, Waterbury

For a full list of the 14 community health centers, visit the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut (CHCACT) website at

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