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Covered California Health Coverage for Immigrants

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Covered California makes health care affordable for legal U.S. and California residents in need of coverage through open enrollment for 2020 beginning October 15, 2019 until January 15, 2020. While health insurance for illegal immigrants is not directly available through Covered California, there are special enrollment options they may qualify for.

Covered California for Immigrants

U.S. nationals and immigrants who are lawfully present in the U.S. and meet all other eligibility requirements, including California state residency, should be eligible to purchase a health insurance plan through the state insurance exchange – Covered California – which may also make them eligible for financial assistance.

To be considered lawfully present in the United States generally means you are:

  • U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals
  • Lawful permanent residents or (“green card holders”).
  • Lawful temporary residents.
  • Persons fleeing persecution, including refugees and those granted asylum.
  • Other humanitarian immigrants, including those granted temporary protected status. Non-immigrant Status holders (including worker visas and student visas)

What is the Minimum Coverage for an Immigrant?

As an Affordable Care Act requirement, all health insurance plans offered must provide patients with a comprehensive package of items and services, known as “essential health benefits”. If you are a qualifying lawful immigrant, a “minimum coverage plan” – which usually offers lower premiums and mostly protects enrollees from worst-case scenarios – may be purchased as an alternative to meet Obamacare insurance requirements.

Can Undocumented Immigrants Get a Penalty for Not Having Health Insurance?

No. Although, under the Affordable Care Act, most individuals – U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals or immigrants who are lawfully residing in the U.S., are required to have health coverage – there is no penalty for not having health insurance that applies to those individuals who are not lawfully present. Undocumented immigrants are exempt from the requirement to have health insurance.

Can Undocumented Immigrants Get Financial Assistance to Pay for Health Coverage?

No. Individuals, considered “Undocumented Immigrants” who are not lawful residents of the U.S., can apply through Covered California to see if they may be eligible for different types of health insurance options through Medi-Cal health insurance with possibly limited benefits. However, immigrants with unlawful residency status are not eligible to purchase a health plan through Covered California or receive financial assistance.

Nevertheless, immigrants unlawfully residing in the U.S. can take advantage of our free health insurance enrollment services to purchase coverage outside of Covered California. In addition, for individuals who are not lawfully present who might qualify, some California counties offer alternative health care options.

What Documents Are Needed to Enroll in Covered California?

When applying for and enrolling in Covered California, your lawful or unlawful residency may come into question and you will likely be required to provide one or more documents as proof of your immigration status. Depending on your status, the following documents are a few of the ones you will need to show:

  • Permanent Resident Card, “Green Card” (I-551)
  • Reentry Permit (I-327)
  • Refugee Travel Document (I-571)
  • Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • Machine Readable Immigrant Visa (with temporary I-551 language)
  • Temporary I-551 Stamp (on passport or I-94/I-94A)
  • Arrival/Departure Record (I-94/I-94A)
  • Arrival/Departure Record in foreign passport (I-94)
  • Foreign Passport
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (I-20)
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (DS2019)

For a complete list you might want to consult the Covered California website at or speak with a Freeway Insurance professional in your area.

For a complete list you might want to consult the Covered California website at or speak with a Freeway Insurance professional in your area.

It must also be noted that all individuals seeking financial assistance to help them pay their monthly health insurance premiums will be asked to provide verification of income, citizenship and residency during the enrollment process. This information includes but may not be limited to:


  • 1
    Social Security numbers or proof of citizenship, or document information for lawfully present individuals, as described above.
  • 2
    Employer and income information for all members of the applicant’s household.
  • 3
    Federal tax information.

How Do I Apply for Covered California?

Applying for Covered California if you meet all U.S. and state residency requirements can be done in several ways. The first is by letting Freeway Insurance, the premier healthcare insurance broker, who has partnered with Covered California and some of the nation’s most trusted carriers, help you apply for and get the low-cost health insurance you need. Freeway Insurance will guide you through the confusing health insurance maze and find you the best health insurance quotes available at no charge – because Freeway’s health services are 100% free.  Both lawful and unlawful immigrants who may be eligible for Medi-Cal low-cost or free health insurance coverage can do so through Freeway Insurance, Covered California or at a county Medi-Cal office year-round.

Remember – this year’s Covered California open enrollment for 2020 begins on October 15, 2019 and continues until January 15, 2020. If you missed last year’s enrollment period and don’t currently have required coverage, don’t let this opportunity go by – or you’ll face another penalty for not having health insurance.

Have questions about health insurance?

Contact Freeway Insurance at 877-583-1475 to speak to an expert insurance agent.