We have received calls on numerous occasions in the office from clients and other people asking if they may obtain medical insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Of course, the Affordable Care Act is a wonderful law which allows individuals to obtain medical insurance at a sliding scale based on their income. However, there is some confusion as to whether immigrants may obtain medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
The website of the Affordable Care Act, listed below:
gives detailed instructions as to what category of immigrant may obtain medical insurance through the Affordable Care Act:
The purpose of this very brief article is not to reiterate those lengthy lists of eligible classes, but to tell you who doesn’t qualify:
Aliens who do not qualify: anyone who does not have valid “status” in the United States. Having a pending I-130 petition or a pending I-601A petition or some other petition filed by a US citizen or permanent resident relative is not sufficient basis to seek medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Why is this critical?
It is critical because the Affordable Care Act is considered to be “means tested public benefits”. Thus, if an alien obtains medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act, that alien has obtained such means tested public benefits. This means that the alien lacks sufficient funds to support himself or herself in the United States. Therefore, this means that – under the Trump administration’s vicious authority – the alien’s application for further immigration benefits may be denied. They may also be subject to removal or deportation as a “public charge”.
Therefore, please be very careful when obtaining health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The vast majority of aliens who are legally present in the United States will have some legally valid status issued by the Department of Homeland Security and so may be eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. However, those who have no status, and those who particularly have entered illegally, and may only have an application pending on them are clearly not eligible for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Finally, keep in mind that even individuals who are eligible to obtain medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act might be deemed as “public charge”because the Affordable Care Act is considered “means-based public assistance”.
For further analysis of your specific issue, please contact our office so that we may help you.
© Farhad Sethna, Attorney, 2020
Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 25 years. He was awarded his JD in 1990 and his MBA in 1991, both from the University of Akron. Since 1996, he has also been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio, where he wrote and continues to use his own immigration textbook. Attorney Sethna is a frequent speaker at Continuing Legal Education and professional development seminars on various immigration-related topics. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. He has won awards for excellence in teaching and for pro-bono service. With offices in Cuyahoga Falls, Akron and New Philadelphia, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases before federal agencies and the immigration courts nationwide. A private pilot, it is Farhad’s goal to fly to each of Ohio’s 88 county airports. Our number is: (330) 384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.