Having health insurance coverage in the United States is important. Unfortunately, many families are unable to get health insurance because it is too expensive. Additionally, some employers may not offer health insurance or families don’t qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP. Families in these types of situations may be able to get assistance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is sometimes referred to as Obamacare.
There are many ways to apply for coverage under the ACA. HealthCare.gov is the main website that you can go to in order to apply. Applications can also be filled out on the phone, by paper application, or other partner websites that have been certified by the government.
What is the “Marketplace”?
The “Marketplace”, found at HealthCare.gov, is where families can apply for health insurance and other options that are available though the ACA. The Marketplace is a resource where families can:
- Enroll in health insurance plans
- Find out answers regarding health care insurance
- Compare health insurance plans in order to get the best coverage at an affordable price
- Find out whether they qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, Chip, or private insurance plans
Immigrants and the Marketplace
In order for you and your family to be eligible to enroll in health, you and your family must live in the United States and be here legally. The following immigration statuses are eligible for coverage through the Marketplace:
- Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders)
- Asylees and Refugees
- Cuban and Haitian entrants
- Victims of Trafficking and their Spouse, Child, Sibling, or Parent
- Individuals with non-immigrant status, including workers visas such as:
- H1, H-2A, H-2B visas
- Student visas, U-visa, T- visas
- Those who have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- Lawful Temporary Residents
- Those that have administrative orders staying removal by the Department of Homeland Security
- Those that have been paroled into the United States
- Conditional Entrants that were granted before 1980
- Battered Spouses, Children, and Parents
Mixed Immigrant Status Families
A mixed immigrant status family is a family whose members include people with different immigration or citizenship statuses. If you are an undocumented immigrant, you are not eligible to buy Marketplace health coverage. However, you are able to apply for coverage for family members who are eligible for coverage. Family members who are not applying for health coverage for themselves will not be asked for their immigration status. Additionally, information provided by applicants or beneficiaries won’t be used for immigration enforcement purposes.
Personal Information May Be Requested
The Marketplace will ask for personal information about your family. However, this information can only be used to determine whether you and your family are eligible for coverage. The reason for this protection is because the ACA is written specifically to include these protections. The person applying should only give a valid social security number issued to them by the Social Security Administration. Families may get details and help applying at www.healthcare.gov. They may also call 1-800-318-2596.
Navigators and Personal Information
Navigators are people that are trained to help families and individuals sign up for health insurance through the Marketplace. The Navigator may need some personal information in order to help families applies for coverage.
Some undocumented immigrants may be afraid to go to the marketplace to buy health insurance for their family members. ACA Navigators can only use personal information to find out if someone can buy health insurance through the marketplace, and cannot share any information with other government agencies.
Will Getting Health Insurance Through the Marketplace Affect My Immigration Status?
Many immigrants and their families are concerned about the “public charge” rule. This rule states that certain immigrants’ legal status can be affected if they received public benefits. Advance premium tax credits/subsidies under the Affordable Care Act are not counted as public benefits in determining whether someone is a public charge. Additionally, the National Immigration Law Center states that having subsidized health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act can help overcome a presumption of being a public charge based upon a person’s health condition. If you have concerns about your immigration status and how Marketplace coverage may affect your status, you should contact an immigration attorney.
What If I Do Not Speak English? Can I Use the Marketplace?
You have the right to get help and information about appeals and other Marketplace issues in your language at no cost. To talk to an interpreter, call 1-800-318-2596.
Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans.
To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:
- Call 800-532-1275.
- Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161.
- Apply online at iowalegalaid.org
If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website iowabar.org. A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice.