Legal Immigrants and Health Insurance
Legal immigrants to the United States have a right to health care insurance. We will discuss this comment in the article without getting into the politics or the emotional aspects associated with all those who are fleeing from dangers in their own country. People come to America for many reasons and from all over the world. Some arrive as students, some on work visas such as H-1B and H-2B, some as entrepreneurs and have E-2 visas. Other legal immigrants satisfy other criteria and intend applying for permanent residency. This market demand creates both immediate and long-term opportunities for HST agents.
Rule Changes Benefit Immigrants
Many immigrants are unsure of their rights to health insurance coverage. Under the previous administration, Mr. Trump signed a proclamation in 2019 barring immigrants from visa status unless they could prove they could obtain health insurance or could afford to pay for health care. BenefitsPro reported that this rule was struck down by an Oregon judge, even though that decision was challenged in courts. Subsequently, the Biden Administration revoked this proclamation. The Hill quotes President Biden saying his administration is “committed to expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare.” Biden also stated, “barring the entry of non-citizens who seek to immigrate lawfully to this country but who lack significant financial means” does not advance the interests of the United States.
The president went on to order the heads of the departments of State, Health and Human Resources, and Homeland Security to “review and revise regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions developed pursuant to” the 2019 proclamation and to issue “revised guidance” as appropriate.
Who Is Eligible?
While these rule changes benefit legal immigrants, it does not automatically offer the provision for health care coverage. Some countries offer different forms of free health care, but America is not one of them. There are public programs such as Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but qualifying for those programs varies state-by-state and, of course, not every immigrant will qualify. Some states have a minimum 5-year waiting period, depending on the reason for immigrating. 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, waive this requirement for children and pregnant women.
Lawfully present immigrants are eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace®, and these include:
- Qualified non-citizens.
- Those with humanitarian statuses or other qualifying circumstances.
- Holders of valid non-immigrant visas. (These include, for example, H-1B, H-2B, and E-2 Visas.)
- Anyone with legal status which has been conferred by American law, such as temporary residency, Family Unity individuals, etc.
Healthcare.gov provides a complete list of all statuses which qualify for Marketplace coverage.
Opportunities for Agents
There is, obviously, a large and, potentially, growing need for health insurance coverage amongst these residents. It is unlikely that many recent immigrants will approach an agent, but if their immigration attorney or other representative, social group or religious leader knows that you are available to help, advise, and recommend products to their clients and followers, it will help them and could generate a new market for your services.
Many legal immigrants obtain an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) through their work, and use it when they apply for a mortgage. It may, therefore, also be useful to network with mortgage brokers, real estate groups, etc. to demonstrate your ability to assist their immigrant clients with healthcare coverage. That, on its own, may open doors even wider, since those professionals work with citizens moving from out of state and may well need to establish relationships with someone such as yourself.
If you have questions, or want to discuss opportunities, please contact us by clicking this link.