Interior of Pharmacy

Health Insurance

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.


If you 

  • 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 where people can purchase a health plan or apply for Medicaid. Some states do not use, 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.

State-by-State Information


If you are a resident of California, you may buy any insurance plan available on California's Covered CA virtual marketplace. For low-income state residents, the following options are available.

If your income is below 138% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL):

You are eligible for Medi-Cal, which is California’s version of Medicaid - free, government-funded health insurance. In California, all immigrants who arrived on humanitarian parole or have been granted TPS, and who meet the income requirement are eligible for full Medi-Cal coverage

👆   In California, the Department of Health Care Services issued guidance regarding the eligibility of Ukranian nationals for Medi-Cal. Print it and have it with you at the Department of Human Assistance. Don't be shy to show it to the social worker.

Medi-Cal Eligibility for New Ukraine Arrivals (EN)
Право на получение Medi-Cal для прибывших из Украины (RU)

👆   Apply for Medi-Cal first, before you apply for other welfare benefits. If you apply for multiple benefits together and the welfare agency determines that you are not eligible for some of them, it may deny your entire application, and you will have to reapply for Medi-Cal.

Video explaining Medi-Cal (in Russian)

If your income is between 138% and 250% of FPL:

You can buy a subsidized private health insurance plan with premium as low as $0. Like Medi-Cal, these plans cover routine doctor appointments, immunizations, prescription drugs and other services. Typical visit and drug costs to you are: Therapist – $5, Specialist – $8, Drugs – $3. Dental and vision plans are separate and require paying monthly premiums. Your children can still be placed on full Medi-Cal coverage.

You are entitled to visit the same doctors and clinics regardless of whether you are on a full-priced, discounted or Medi-Cal insurance plan. The quality of your care will not suffer because you pay less for your insurance. Your doctor will likely not know how much you pay for the visit.

Russian-speaking insurance agent in CA: 

Tatiana Gerberg

tel: 619-925-8000



In Washington, health plans are purchased on 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.

Related Pages


Organizations that provide free social assistance

Interior of Pharmacy

Health insurance for refugees and visitors