What does the new healthcare law (the Affordable Care Act) mean for me?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare, healthcare reform, the Affordable Care Act, or the federal healthcare law) is a United States federal statute that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. This law represents the most significant overhaul of the United States healthcare system since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The Affordable Care Act is designed to protect consumers, provide new coverage options, and give you the tools you need to make informed informed choices about your health[1].

Through the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 900,000 Illinois residents will gain access to health insurance. Currently, lawful permanent residents are more than twice as likely as U.S. citizens to lack health insurance[2] and for Latinos specifically, more than half of adults are uninsured[3]. While the ACA does not fully encompass all immigrants, the law will make significant headway in providing affordable health insurance to many of Illinois' residents, resulting in healthier communities across the state.

Important Dates (2016-2017):

Open Enrollment- November 1, 2016

Last Day to Enroll: January 31, 2017

Outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period, you generally can enroll in a health insurance plan only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Click Here for more information. You may qualify if you have certain life events such as getting married, having a child, or losing other health coverage. Visit healthcare.gov for more information

What are some of the benefits of the new health care law/Affordable Care Act?

  • Expanded Eligibility: Young adults can stay on their parent's health plan until they reach age 26.
  • Reducing Health Disparities: Additional data is being collected on ethnicity, race, sex, language, disability and more in an effort to identify and reduce disparities.
  • Free Preventive Care for Seniors: Certain free preventive services, such as annual wellness visits and personalized prevention plans, are available for seniors on Medicare.
  • Prohibiting Denying Coverage of Children Based on Pre-Existing Conditions: New rules prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to children under the age of 19 due to a pre-existing condition.
  • Providing Free Preventive Care: All new plans must cover certain preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, without charging a deductible, co-pay, or coinsurance. 
  • Medicaid Expansion: Medicaid was expanded to low-income individuals up to 133% of the povery line - about $32,319 for a family of 4 -whether or not they have children or a disability. Individuals must be Lawful Permanent Residents (have a green card) for 5 years or U.S. citizens to qualify for Medicaid.
  • Insurance Marketplace: Markets were set up to regulate private insurance and help consumers make educated decisions about healthcare coverage. Only lawfully present immigrants and U.S. citizens can purchase insurance through the "Exchange."
  • No Denial for Pre-Existing Conditions: Individuals with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Tax Credits: Low and middle income individuals who purchase insurance through the "Marketplace" will receive tax credits.
What did the Affordable Care Act (ACA) do for immigrants and refugees?

I am undocumented:

  • You are not allowed to purchase private health insurance in state insurance exchange(s).
  • You are not eligible for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions.
  • You are exempt from the individual mandate.
  • You are not eligible for Medicare, nonemergency Medicaid, or CHIP.
  • You remain eligible for emergency care under federal law.
  • You may seek nonemergency health services at community health centers or safety-net hospitals.
  • You remain eligible for Moms & Babies.

I am here on a Visa OR have had a green card for less than 5 years:

  • You are subject to the individual mandate and related tax penalty (exempt if low income or meet specific exemptions).
  • You may purchase from the state insurance exchanges.
  • You are eligible for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.
  • You are eligible for temporary high-risk pools and "basic health plans" offered by a state.
  • You do not have to wait to enroll in state insurance exchanges or to get premium tax credits.
  • You may seek nonemergency health services at community health centers or safety-net hospitals.

I have had a green card for more than 5 years:

  • Same as above for someone having a green card for less than 5 years
  • You may be eligible for Medicaid if you are low-income. As of 2014, all adults with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty line (for example, $33,465 for a family of four in 2016), whether they have dependent children or not.

I am a naturalized citizen OR a refugee:

  • You are subject to the individual mandate and related tax penalty (exempt if low-income or meet specific exemptions).
  • Same access and requirements for affordable coverage as U.S.-born citizens.
  • You can purchase own insurance from the state insurance exchange(s).
  • You are eligible for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.
  • You are eligible for temporary high-risk pools and "basic health plans" offered by a state.
  • If low-income and under 65 years old, you may qualify for Medicaid. As of 2014, all adults with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty line (for example, $33,465 for a family of four in 2016), whether they have dependent children or not.

I am under 18 years old:

  • You qualify for ALL KIDS (provides free or affordable medical insurance for children in Illinois, covers children with family income under 300% of the federal poverty level, regardless of immigration status).
  • Your parents can purchase insurance for you from the state exchanges (citizen or lawfully present immigrant children eligible for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions).

Fact sheets about ACA for Immigrants: English and Spanish

For information about the Affordable Care Act and Taxes for Immigrants, click HERE

If you have questions about health care or public benefits, call 1-877-537-7460