In today’s political climate, being an undocumented immigrant is often nerve-wracking and intimidating. Health professionals report that, since the crackdown on “illegal immigrants,” migrant workers have been much less likely to pursue professional health care even when they desperately need it.
Believe it or not, though there are multiple ways to safely access immigrant healthcare at low cost. Far from an untrustworthy, illegal health care system, these programs are entirely legal and taking advantage of them could be life-saving. Many clinics are also equipped with translators who will help doctors communicate with non-English-speaking patients, which is a vital aspect of immigrant health care.
Community Health Clinics and the Assistance They Offer
Most major metropolitan areas in the U.S. have at least one community health clinic. These health centers provide basic services like screenings for disease, basic dental care, diabetes treatment, and STD tests. They are not free, but services are provided on a sliding scale basis according to income. These centers will treat patients regardless of immigrant status and ability to pay. They do not turn away patients. The drop in attendance at community health clinics has clear consequences for immigrant populations’ overall health. However, it’s also important to advocate for these programs to be expanded and improved. There is approximately one health clinic for every 85,000 undocumented immigrants in the country.
Medical School Clinics Offering Aid for Training
Many major medical schools also operate health clinics, which give advanced medical and dental students the chance to gain professional experience under the supervision of attending physicians. Many of these programs are entirely free to patients, and still, others are low-cost. However, they are often only available during certain nights of the week. Medical and dental school clinics provide an array of immigrant health care services, including screenings, tests, treatment, and dental care.
Health Care for Enrolled Students
Most universities do not require that students prove that they are a legal immigrant in order to enroll. Thus, undocumented students attend colleges and universities all over the U.S. These students are in an especially good position to obtain high-quality health care because they can easily enroll in a student health plan, which is usually part of tuition. Tuition may be covered by scholarships or loans. Five states provide health insurance coverage to all undocumented children under 18. These states include California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, and Illinois. Children in these states are eligible for health care regardless of their immigration status.
Hospital & Emergency Rooms Options Available
As a last resort, never hesitate to go to a hospital emergency room if you need urgent care. Hospitals that receive funding from the federal government are required to accept all patients who need emergency care. That includes undocumented immigrants and uninsured patients. However, keep in mind that hospitals are not required to provide care after the patient is no longer in an emergency condition. Most hospitals receive federal funding and are therefore required to follow this law. However, it’s worth double-checking the hospitals in your area before an emergency arises to make sure that they will accept you.
Obtaining Private Health Care Plans
Obtaining insurance through private plans, outside of employers, is extremely costly. Most citizens, whether documented or not, are unable to do so due to the expense. However, since undocumented immigrants aren’t eligible to apply through the Affordable Care Act, a small fraction choose to pay the high cost of private health insurance. The above programs are doing a world of good, and people should absolutely take advantage of them rather than turning to illegal healthcare solutions. Thus, while these programs might save your life as an individual, they’re unable to adequately serve the entire population at once. This leads to greater numbers of people seeking emergency care rather than preventative care, which is a huge burden on the healthcare system. The other major issue is that immigrants often don’t know about these resources or don’t trust them. By spreading the word that these programs are available, you can help benefit the country’s health as a whole.
Public Insurance Programs
There are some state programs that will provide health coverage and service to illegal immigrants and their children. These programs fall under the public insurance programs that are offered by a sponsoring state. Keep in mind that most states do not provide health coverage from public funds. However, they sometimes are willing to make an exception when it comes to the children of illegal immigrants. States who provide health coverage and service to illegal aliens typically use their own funding. Once again, federal dollars usually do not cover undocumented people living in this country. U.S. born children who live in a mixed-status home may also receive coverage from public insurance funds. Interested parties that want to know more about this type of immigrant healthcare options should contact their state’s health insurance program.
PRUCOL stands for Permanent Residence Under Color of the Law. This is a citizenship status that provides illegal immigrants the ability to obtain public benefits. This status is typically given to illegal immigrants that have been documented as illegal aliens by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the USCIS knows that a person is unlawfully residing within the U.S. they can make plans not to deport that individual. Illegal immigrants who are not scheduled for deportation can use this status to get some rights as a U.S. citizen. This also includes acquiring health benefits. Some illegal aliens given the PRUCOL designation did receive Medicaid and other types of health coverage in the past. Keep in mind that this is a case by case situation. Illegal Immigrants that are given the “DREAMers” are not eligible for this benefit. Former President Barack Obama stated that DREAMers are not lawfully present citizens and would be ineligible for Medicaid, Chip and other forms of federal and state insurance. Once again, these rules are constantly changing. Illegal aliens should check the current laws within their state figure out immigrant healthcare options available to them.
Health Care Safety Net
The government wisely figured out that not every person within the nation is going to have health coverage. They decided to remedy this problem by providing hospitals and health centers with a “safety net”. This safety net is a funding source from the government to medical facilities to cover the costs associated with uninsured patients. Illegal immigrants can also benefit from this provision as well. As well as Low-income patients are also covered under this safety net as well. While these programs will eventually be reduced or cut they still help uninsured or underinsured individuals to receive health coverage. Illegal aliens can also fall under this category as well. Remember that each emergency facility has the funding to treat uninsured patients until they are well enough to be released from their care. The reason why they can provide this type of service has to do with the health care safety net.
Illegal Immigrants Sometimes Receive State Funded Medicaid Assistance
While the government does not support illegal immigrants with state money, they will not purposely allow an undocumented person with a serious medical condition to suffer or die. The U.S. health system is designed to preserve and to save lives. Even if people are lacking the resources and funding to cover their health needs, the government will step in and help people when they have medical problems. Some states that deal with a lot of undocumented people set aside Medicaid funding to help these individuals. States such as California and Arizona have this type of assistance in place. The purpose of this action is to ensure that people are not dying or being left sick after they arrive in this country. This emergency Medicaid assistance can help people to live healthy and productive lives once they arrive in America – regardless if they are a citizen or not.
Some Illegal Immigrants can Receive Health Insurance through their Legal Children
Any person that is born on U.S. soil is considered a citizen. Even if their parents were not legal citizens at the time of their birth. A legal citizen who is a minor cannot apply for health coverage. However, their parents can. Illegal immigrants have been able to get health insurance through this type of situation within many states. Apply for health care immigrants is the best step to take for legal status aliens. An illegal immigrant with a legal status child should check with their state’s programs to figure out what types of health coverage is available for their situation.
State Waivers for Illegal Immigrant Health Care Coverage
All states can request the federal government’s permission to waive the use of federal health care dollars for illegal immigrant health care. This is what some states are doing throughout the nation where there has been in a surge in illegal immigrant health care. This is important for undocumented people to know. Often times they assume (and rightly so) that states cannot and will not help them with medical care because of federal restrictions. However, this is not always the case. States are finding the federal government to be more flexible in this area. They realize that the illegal immigrant paradox is not going to stop happening any time soon. They want to ensure that states have the funding they need to care for these individuals. Illegal aliens can benefit from state health coverage waivers by visiting local health departments, clinics, medical centers, and hospitals. These medical facilities typically offer free medical service.