There are many public health insurance programs in New York, and certain categories of lawfully present immigrants have the same access and requirements for affordable coverage as U.S.–born citizens, provided they meet income and residency requirements. Green-card holders and applicants, refugees, asylees and asylum applicants, victims of trafficking and domestic abuse, and those approved for deferred action for childhood arrival (DACA) may be eligible to apply for public health insurance, provided they meet income and residency requirements.
Undocumented immigrants may also be eligible for certain programs. For example, there are no immigration restrictions for children’s health insurance in New York (Child Health Plus) or for Medicaid for pregnant women. Immigrants who are ineligible for coverage because of their immigration status may also pre-certify for emergency Medicaid through the New York State of Health website
Despite the availability of certain programs, immigrants are much less likely to have health insurance than US-born individuals. This is related to lower rates of employer-sponsored insurance, restrictions in eligibility for public health insurance, and language and cultural barriers. Immigrants also may have concerns about whether enrolling in public health insurance will affect their ability to adjust status to lawful permanent resident (public charge) or sponsor a relative, or whether a sponsor will be liable for the cost of their medical care.
Public health insurance eligibility rules can be complicated, but there are many places people can go for help with the application. See the documents and links on this page for more information about immigrant eligibility for public health insurance, unique immigrant concerns such as sponsor issues and public charge, and help with public health insurance applications.
- GNYHA's Health Information Tool for Empowerment - for social workers, case workers, and discharge planners
- NYC Human Resource Administration How and Where to Apply for Medicaid (.pdf)
- NYSDOH Medicaid Documentation Policy for Aliens presenting Expired “Green Cards” (.pdf)
- Empire Justice Center's New York's Exchange Portal: A Gateway to Coverage for All New Yorkers (.pdf)
- Empire Justice Center's Health Coverage Crosswalk: Eligibility by Immigration Status (.pdf)