QUESTION

Can immigrants enroll in Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage?

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ANSWER

Most lawfully present immigrants who meet Medicaid and CHIP program requirements, such as income and state residency, can enroll in Medicaid or CHIP after they have been in the United States for five years or more.

Some groups of lawfully present immigrants do not have to wait five years before they may enroll in Medicaid and CHIP. These include refugees, asylees, and other humanitarian immigrants; veterans and military families; and pregnant women and children in some states.

Some lawfully present immigrants who are authorized to work in the United States cannot enroll in Medicaid, even if they have been in the country for five or more years.

Note that in October 2018, the Trump Administration proposed an expansion to the current policy that determines whether certain immigrants would be considered a “public charge.” While the rule is not finalized, it may eventually impact individuals seeking admission to the U.S. or seeking to adjust status to lawful permanent residence (green card) applying for or using certain public benefits, like Medicaid. If the rule is finalized, you will have time to act before the rule goes into effect, and thus can still apply for and use public benefits including Medicaid in the interim.

Undocumented immigrants may not enroll in Medicaid or CHIP coverage. (42 C.F.R. § 435.406; 42 C.F.R. § 457.320).

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