U.S. Law Center

Medical assistance offered to low-income immigrant children

It is natural for parents to want to protect their children, but for many undocumented immigrants in California, there may be obstacles that arise from their lack of legal status. For example, fear of deportation or language barriers may prevent someone from seeking assistance, even while difficulty finding work may contribute to the need for the help. California legislators have made many changes to state and local laws with these factors in mind.

Health care reform does not typically include undocumented immigrants. Because of the lack of affordable insurance and medical care, many people who are in the country illegally delay seeking treatment until the seriousness of the illness or injury can no longer be ignored. Then, hospital emergency departments may be the only place where they can receive care that is both immediate and not dependent on their immigration status.

New legislation in California addresses the issue by allowing many undocumented children from low-income families to qualify for the state-funded Medi-Cal program. The expansion of the state’s health insurance may provide affordable health care to over 170,000 children aged 18 and younger who were previously ineligible. Some children and teens may even qualify for coverage at no cost, depending on the family size and income.

Children who are illegal immigrants face many of the same challenges as their parents. However, U.S. immigration law and California laws differ in how they address the issues affecting this population. Immigrants who are uncertain about their rights or the rights of their children in Riverside and Orange County may learn more by contacting an immigration attorney.

Source: ThinkProgress.org, “Thousands of Undocumented Kids Can Now Enroll in Health Care Coverage,” Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, May 17, 2016

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