Foreign nationals who reside in California may enjoy many of the benefits of living in the United States, but they may still worry about being able to find and afford health care insurance coverage. The Affordable Care Act created health coverage marketplaces where people can purchase insurance plans. Those plans vary in the amount of coverage and the cost. People whose incomes qualify receive subsidies to help offset the costs of coverage.
Currently, immigrants with specific statuses and other foreign nationals are eligible to purchase health insurance policies through the marketplace. According to HealthCare.gov, some of these include the following:
- Visa holders who have been victims of trafficking or domestic violence
- Those with certain types of immigration applications pending
- Lawful temporary or permanent residents
- Some non-immigrant workers with specific employment authorizations
- Refugees or asylum seekers
- Holders of certain types of worker visas
Immigrants who do not have the proper documentation are not able to purchase health insurance through the marketplace. However, Fox News reports that California has petitioned the Department of Health and Human Services for a waiver that would allow it to offer ACA coverage to this population.
There has been some criticism from those who believe ACA benefits should not be offered to foreign nationals without the proper paperwork. Those who are seeking the waiver have pointed out that if it is granted, plans that may be available to undocumented immigrants through Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, and would not be funded by the federal government. It is estimated that, if successful, this move would give access to health insurance to 390,000 undocumented California residents.