In most states, undocumented immigrants are not eligible to enroll in Medicare, Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or to buy Marketplace health coverage. There may be limited options for coverage for emergency services; however, cancer treatment may not constitute emergency care.
Some states have state-funded health programs that provide coverage or assistance to some groups of immigrants, such as children and pregnant women, regardless of immigration status. State-only funded programs for health coverage vary a great deal in terms of eligibility and types of services provided. Visit the National Immigration Law Center to view the Table of Medical Assistance Programs for Immigrants in Various States. (Click the PDF icon to download.)
Even if you are eligible for coverage, there may be legal implications. It can be helpful to talk to a legal expert before making any decisions about enrolling in health coverage. Use the National Immigration Legal Services Directory from the Immigration Advocates Network to search for nonprofit organizations that provide free or low-cost immigration legal services.
Seeking Medical Care
Healthcare professionals should not ask your immigration status. Healthcare professionals are not allowed to share your personal information, including your immigration status, with others.
Free/low-cost clinics often offer care regardless of immigration status. Search for free/low-cost clinics here. You can also go to an emergency room if you need emergency care.
You have a right to an interpreter at no cost when seeking medical care.
Resources for More Information
For more information, visit the following resources:
- Protecting Immigrant Families
- ”You Have Rights: Protect Your Health”
- Protecting Immigrant Families also provides information related to COVID-19 testing and treatment for immigrants: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that immigrants can seek testing, treatment and prevention of COVID-19 without fearing immigration consequences due to public charge.”
- Triage Cancer’s Quick Guide to Health Care Rights of Immigrants
- Immigration Advocates Network
- Informed Immigrant
- National Immigration Forum
- Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)
- The Pew Charitable Trusts
- United We Dream Network
Reviewed by Monica Fawzy Bryant, Esq. with Triage Cancer
- To access this page in Spanish, click here.
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s free booklet, Cancer and Your Finances.
- Managing Insurance and Expenses During Illness
- Public Programs
- The Affordable Care Act
- Organizing Medical Records