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Medical Help for Immigrants

Medical Help for Immigrants

Medical help for immigrants might seem hard to find, but there are options. No matter what your status is, it’s possible to find medical help for immigrants at a low cost in your community. 

Whether you have questions about health insurance, medical care for kids, or low cost medical help for immigrants, we have you covered. 

Medical Help for Immigrants: Health Insurance

Medical care in the United States can be expensive, and health insurance is one thing that can help mitigate costs. However, health insurance itself can be expensive, and it can also be complicated, depending on your immigration status. 

Certain lawfully present immigrants, including green card holders (permanent residents), asylees, refugees, those with certain working visas, and others are eligible to purchase health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace (aka. Obamacare). These lawfully present immigrants are eligible for Medicaid in most states as well. 

Undocumented immigrants–also referred to as “out of status” or without “papers”–are not permitted to purchase insurance through the Health Insruance Marketplace and are not eligible for Medicaid in most states. However, children and pregnant women are eligible for CHIP or Medicaid coverage in most states, regardless of immigration status. has a full listing of states and the types of coverage available for undocumented children and pregnant women. 

Although most states do not offer Medicaid coverage for undocumented immigrants, there are some cities, including New York City and Los Angeles, which have created programs for undocumented immigrants to access low cost health coverage. 

Medical Help for Immigrants: Locating Free and Low-Cost Healthcare

When health insurance is out of reach, either due to its high cost or because of your immigration status, it is still critical to access healthcare both for preventative services and when you’re ill or injured. 

Below are several options for finding free or low-cost medical help for immigrants:

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created a database where you can find free health clinics in your area. 
  • The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics is an organization that houses the information of 1,400 free and charitable clinics across the U.S. This database also includes a search function by zip code. 
  • is a not-for-profit online database that is updated regularly with information about free and low-cost healthcare across the U.S.
  • Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps holds free pop-up clinics in remote areas where it is difficult to access medical care. You can search their free pop-up clinic schedule to find out if they plan to hold a pop-up clinic near you. 
  • Planned Parenthood has over 600 locations across the United States. In addition to family planning services, Planned Parenthood offers STI/STD testing for both men and women, as well as general gynecology services. Many locations also offer general health services (primary care) for both men and women as well. Call to find a location near you at 1800-230-PLAN (1800-230-7526).
  • Many publicly run COVID-19 testing sites are free. If you suspect you have COVID-19, or need a test for another reason, you can find a free testing site by searching “free COVID-19 test near me”. Please note that testing sites typically do not offer treatment, only diagnoses. 
  • Vaccinations for COVID-19 and influenza are free at many city and state run sites. Vaccinations can prevent serious illness and the need for additional medical help down the road. Search online for “free COVID-19 vaccine near me” or “free flu vaccine near me”. 
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Medical Help for Immigrants: Are There Other Options?

Urgent care and walk-in clinics like CityMD, CrimsonCare, and Healthcare Express are not typically free. However, sometimes they are less costly than visiting a medical practice or solo practitioner. They almost always accept insurance, and most take Medicaid and Medicare.

As a last resort, emergency rooms are required by law to provide care to everyone, free of charge. Keep in mind that this isn’t a sustainable way to get regular healthcare, but if you are injured or having a medical emergency, the ER must provide at least enough care to stabilize you.

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Medical Help for Immigrants: What if I Don’t Have Papers?

When seeking medical help for immigrants, a common question is whether one’s immigration status will be revealed to the authorities. In almost all cases, undocumented immigrants will not be pursued by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) when seeking medical care because ICE agents are instructed not to make arrests at sensitive locations, including churches, schools, and hospitals, except in extraordinary circumstances. 

Further, doctors and other medical personnel are there to assist with health issues, and are not typically concerned with the immigration status of their patients. 

Finding medical help for immigrants can be challenging due to both barriers of cost and of the restrictions placed on insurance coverage. We hope the resources above are helpful for you!

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Catherine Hall, LMSW is a therapist at a small group practice in New York City. She earned her master of social work degree at New York University.