Health insurance for refugees and visitors
Healthcare in the U.S. is very expensive, therefore health insurance is critical. Upon arrival in the U.S., you should obtain health insurance as soon as possible.
arrived in the U.S. on humanitarian parole (including the Uniting for Ukraine program),
have been granted TPS, or
are seeking asylum and have been granted employment authorization,
you are eligible to buy a full-coverage health insurance plan through the U.S. health insurance marketplace.
Health insurance plans vary by state. If you move from one state to another, you typically need to enroll into a new health insurance plan, and coverage under your old plan will cease.
If your income is below a certain threshold (different from state to state), you are eligible for free or low-cost emergency health insurance called “Medicaid” which covers sudden treatment in emergency situations and pregnancy-related services. Some states provide comprehensive Medicaid coverage to certain categories of immigrants. See National Immigration Law Center chart for state-by-state information.
The U.S. has a central virtual health insurance marketplace available at HealthCare.gov where people can purchase a health plan or apply for Medicaid. Some states do not use HealthCare.gov, but run their own local health insurance marketplaces available via dedicated websites.
👆 If you do not yet have a social security number (SSN), you may encounter difficulties enrolling online. Enroll through an insurance agent, or at your local welfare agency if you are applying for Medicaid. Ask your insurance agent or welfare agency to provide you a letter to the Social Security Administration explaining that they need your SSN to issue health insurance. With this letter, apply for an SSN. If the Social Security Administration denies your request for an SSN, obtain a written denial and submit it back to the insurance agent or welfare agency.
If you are staying in the U.S. on a B1/B2 visa, you are not eligible for buying health insurance through a marketplace or getting Medicaid. You may buy visitor insurance which provides emergency coverage of accidents and sudden illness onsets.
In Washington, health plans are purchased on HealthPlanFinder.org marketplace.
Low-income Ukrainian immigrants are placed on the Alien Emergency Medical (AEM) plan which covers emergency services, cancer and dialysis treatments and anti-rejection medication for organ transplant. In addition, the following categories of immigrants get enhanced coverage:
Seniors and persons who are blind or disabled may be eligible for a limited medical care services program;
Prenatal care and 12 months of post-partum care is available regardless of immigration status;
Children in households with income below 215% FPL are eligible for medical coverage without a share of cost, regardless of their immigration status. Monthly premiums are required for children in families earning between 215% and 317% FPL.
The state also offers subsidized private health insurance plans for low-income residents who are not eligible for AEM.