The Best Private Health Insurance for Undocumented Immigrants [2022]

Undocumented immigrants are among the most vulnerable people in the U.S. Among the many issues that undocumented immigrants face is insufficient access to healthcare. If these people can't buy health insurance, they usually can’t afford to see a doctor. However, sometimes it's possible to buy private health insurance for undocumented immigrants.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent Benji Carr

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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Quick Facts

  • The U.S. government estimates that there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, most of whom have no health insurance
  • Undocumented immigrants aren’t eligible for Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans, and they usually can’t buy private health insurance plans either
  • The best opportunity for an undocumented immigrant to obtain insurance coverage is via an employer or a spouse, but it is sometimes possible to purchase private health insurance for undocumented immigrants

Undocumented immigrants find their way to the U.S. for a variety of reasons. From political violence to ecological crisis to the simple hope for a better familial future, immigrants come to the U.S. hoping for safety and opportunity.

However, undocumented immigrants are among the most vulnerable people in America. They are often unwilling to approach authorities when being mistreated for fear of deportation. Some companies take advantage of their desperation to remain stateside by offering them low wages and illegal work hours.

Another issue that undocumented immigrants face is insufficient access to healthcare. Healthcare is notoriously expensive in the U.S., with or without health insurance. If undocumented immigrants can’t purchase health insurance, they usually can’t afford to see a doctor.

Unfortunately, undocumented immigrants lack many options for private health insurance. However, you can enter your ZIP code into our free tool to determine what quotes might look like for you.

Can undocumented immigrants buy private health insurance?

The U.S. government estimates that more than 11 million undocumented immigrants are currently in the country. Undocumented immigrants usually struggle to acquire healthcare coverage due to their legal status. It’s challenging to find private health insurance quotes when no one wants to sell to you.

Health insurance for undocumented immigrants is more than an individual issue as well. The National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that uninsured people cost over $35 billion every year in unpaid healthcare.

The most common way that undocumented immigrants obtain health insurance is through their employer or a family member. Undocumented immigrants don’t typically work in occupations that provide healthcare; therefore, numerous employees are left uncovered.

While an undocumented immigrant might find private health insurance in the marketplace, it can be very challenging. Additionally, since their status in the U.S. is illegal, private health insurance costs will be much higher.

Do undocumented immigrants have access to the Affordable Care Act?

Since they are not citizens, undocumented immigrants are ineligible to participate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They’re also ineligible for Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program).

However, some states provide free healthcare coverage to pregnant women, regardless of their immigration status. Others provide insurance coverage to children, regardless of whether or not they are undocumented.

How can undocumented immigrants access healthcare?

Unfortunately, most undocumented immigrants won’t be able to acquire health insurance, which means that they’ll need to rely on community health centers for care.

Health clinics — such as Planned Parenthood — provide affordable family planning and basic reproductive health services. Some health clinics — including Planned Parenthood — offer services on a sliding scale system, which determines how much you pay according to your income level.

Additionally, federal law mandates that emergency rooms stabilize and treat patients with essential care, whether they have no insurance or are undocumented.

It’s not the same as having health insurance, but it’s better than possessing no healthcare at all.

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How can undocumented immigrants become legal?

Under U.S. law, it can be highly challenging for an undocumented immigrant — who is already in the states — to gain legal status. This is because there are only three main ways to gain legal access to America as an immigrant:

  • Employment opportunity
  • Family connection
  • Humanitarian protection

It can be almost impossible for immigrants with no connections to gain legal status. Even undocumented immigrants that have been in the U.S. for decades don’t have an easy way to become legal.

There is plentiful online advice about gaining legal status, but those options can be tenuous at best and might not even work. For example, many sites suggest finding a citizen to marry. However, if the marriage isn’t real, U.S. Customs and Immigration will likely discover the deception.

Even if you do marry an American citizen (therefore making you a close relative), your status eligibility might not change if you are in the country illegally.

If you are an undocumented immigrant and want to change your status, the best thing you can do is to contact an attorney who specializes in immigration law.

Best Private Health Insurance Companies

If an undocumented immigrant manages to change their legal status, there are a lot of private health insurance providers from which to choose. In regard to private health insurance, the most important aspects to seek are a definition of your coverage, affordability, and a good network of doctors.

While there are hundreds of insurance companies to select from, here are four of the best options.

BlueCross BlueShield

BlueCross BlueShield is one of the most well-known health insurance providers in America, and for a good reason. It offers extensive coverage throughout the U.S. and international insurance for either brief or lengthy travel.

This insurance provider has one of the largest networks of physicians. As a customer, you probably won’t have a hard time finding a doctor that takes your insurance.

BlueCross BlueShield provides insurance for most of the largest companies in America, but they also cater to individual buyers. It also works with the ACA, resulting in qualified savings on your insurance.

UnitedHealthcare

While UnitedHealthcare has a reputation for customer complaints, it’s an excellent choice if you need short-term insurance. Unlike most short-term insurance providers, UnitedHealthcare has an extended three-year option.

If you need short-term insurance, plans are underwritten by Golden Rule Insurance and aren’t available in every state.

UnitedHealthcare also has traditional health insurance options for both individuals and families as well as employers.

Cigna

Cigna is one of the most user-friendly health insurance providers. As a Cigna customer, you have 24/7 access to a nurse hotline and free annual checkups. It also has a stellar mobile app.

However, you can only obtain ACA-compliant plans through Cigna in 13 states.

Cigna is also a great choice for employers because it makes adding dental and vision simple for workers.

Oscar

Oscar is only available in 19 states, but it is convenient. Oscar has a great mobile app that makes it easy to monitor your claims, find in-network doctors, and manage your account. As it was founded in 2012, Oscar has been digital from the outset.

It offers some ACA insurance plans if you’re eligible, and it makes it incredibly effortless to handle your healthcare needs from your phone or computer.

Find the Best Private Health Insurance Plans

Obtaining health insurance as an undocumented immigrant is a challenge that prevents individuals from receiving necessary healthcare and costs America billions. Unfortunately, most undocumented immigrants are deprived of coverage if they can’t acquire insurance through their employer or a close family member.

However, it might be possible to find private health insurance for undocumented immigrants if you compare enough companies. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool today to discover what quotes might look like for you.

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