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Breaking Down Medi-Cal for Undocumented Immigrants: Benefits and Eligibility Requirements 

What if you could easily get affordable health care, and you didn’t even know it? 

Many undocumented immigrants in California worry that they have no way of getting low-cost health insurance.  

You came to the United States, leaving everything behind, in search of a better life and opportunities for you and your family. You’ve faced challenges, worked hard, and made progress, but one thing still weighs heavily on your mind – the lack of medical coverage. The thought of someone in your family falling ill and not being able to afford the medical expenses is a constant source of worry. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to live in fear anymore. There are options available for undocumented immigrants, and today, we’re going to show you how to access them! 

Fortunately, it’s possible for everyone in the state (whether they are undocumented or not) to get affordable coverage. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about Medi-Cal for undocumented immigrants, including benefits and eligibility requirements. 

Can Undocumented Immigrants Get Health Insurance in California? 

The good news: undocumented immigrants may qualify for Medi-Cal insurance depending on income and other factors, which is one of the reasons this form of coverage is sometimes referred to as “immigrant health insurance.” While undocumented immigrants can’t get health insurance through Covered California because of their immigration status, Medi-Cal is a really great option. 

It’s also possible for you to pursue other forms of coverage through private carriers or via your employer. In this way, even if you do not qualify for either Covered California or Medi-Cal, you may still be able to get the protection you need. 

What Is Medi-Cal Insurance and How Does It Work? 

Medi-Cal insurance is designed to provide coverage for low-income residents of California. This is an option offered to everyone in California, regardless of their immigration status. As long as you meet the income requirements outlined by the state, you can get the coverage you need. 

Outside of the income requirements, there are other ways that undocumented immigrants and other state residents may be able to obtain Medi-Cal coverage. For example, Medi-Cal is available to everyone who is under 21 or over 65, regardless of income, and it is available to everyone who is blind, disabled, or who has been diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer. 

Pregnant women also qualify for Medi-Cal, as do those who are either parents or caretakers of a child who is eligible for this coverage. Finally, it is also available to certain refugees based on their status and those living in a nursing home or an intermediate care home. 

Can All Undocumented Immigrants Get Medi-Cal? 

Fortunately, most immigrants can qualify for some form of health insurance, whether it’s Medi-Cal or private insurance. However, because most recipients qualify for Medi-Cal due to their income, it’s possible for you to make too much money to qualify. 

For example, a UCLA report projected that, as of 2024, there will be “520,000 uninsured undocumented residents who earn too much for Medi-Cal and do not have employer coverage.” Fortunately, those who do not qualify for this specialized form of coverage may still be able to get health insurance from private carriers. In fact, making too much to qualify for Medi-Cal may make purchasing private coverage that much more affordable for you. 

An African-American nurse listens to a young Hispanic girl's chest with a stethoscope.

Benefits of Medi-Cal Insurance for Undocumented Immigrants 

Medi-Cal offers many benefits to all who qualify, regardless of their immigration status. Here are some of the benefits available to you” 

  • Outpatient and emergency services are covered, as is hospitalization. This gives the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if a sudden health issue arises, you’ll be able to access proper care. 
  • Preventative and wellness services are also covered by Medi-Cal. This is important because regularly staying on top of your health can keep smaller issues from turning into something more serious. If you are already dealing with a very serious issue, you should also know that this insurance covers chronic disease management. 
  • Pediatric care (including vision care and oral care) is covered, as are maternity and newborn care.  
  • Mental health, prescription drugs, and laboratory services are all covered, effectively offering undocumented immigrants and legal residents alike a full range of health coverage.  

If you are eligible for Medi-Cal or Covered California, it’s important to know how to apply and how to choose the right health plan

How to Apply for Medi-Cal as an Undocumented Immigrant in California 

If you are an undocumented immigrant in California who wishes to apply for Medi-Cal, your first step is to fill out your MC 13 form (no Social Security number is needed to do so). Next, you’ll need to get a copy of at least one immigration document proving that you have applied for legal status or currently have legal status (something like a USCIS Approval Notice works just fine). 

Once you have taken these steps, all you must do is bring the required form and documents to your local Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) office. From there, you’ll be able to formally apply for the insurance you need. 

Exploring Alternative Health Care Options for Undocumented Immigrants in California 

If you do not qualify for Medi-Cal or otherwise do not wish to use it for your health insurance, alternative options for low-cost and free health insurance are available. This includes getting coverage from either your workplace (for employees) or via your college or university (for students). 

Otherwise, the best alternative to Medi-Cal is to seek out carriers who offer private health insurance. As with any other type of coverage, it is advisable to shop around to find the best insurance at the most affordable price. 

Get the Most Affordable California Health Insurance Today 

Now you know everything you need to know about Medi-Cal for undocumented immigrants. But do you know where you can find the best private health insurance in the state? 

Here at Cost-U-Less, we specialize in keeping all of California’s residents, including undocumented immigrants, as safe as they can be. Ready to give yourself and your family the protection you need and deserve? Call us at (800) 390-4071 or get a fast and free health insurance quote online. You can also find a nearby Cost-U-Less office and visit us in person. 

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