Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Mar 6, 2022

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The Truth in a Nutshell

  • Undocumented immigrants will likely have to purchase a health insurance policy via the private market since they are not eligible for Affordable Care Act benefits
  • An undocumented immigrant has the option of purchasing health insurance through an employer-sponsored program
  • In some cases, undocumented immigrants may be able to purchase short-term health insurance coverage as a temporary solution

There are currently around 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Immigrants can buy health insurance through an employer, the private market, or a health plan marketed to immigrants specifically, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

While lawfully present immigrants within the U.S. can purchase health insurance from several places, undocumented immigrants will have a hard time finding coverage. However, it is still possible for undocumented immigrants to obtain a private health insurance policy.

Can undocumented immigrants find health insurance in the U.S.?

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find health insurance for undocumented immigrants in the United States. The Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage is not an option. Undocumented immigrants cannot apply for Medicaid, Medicare, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

One exception is undocumented pregnant women. In many states, these individuals have the option of purchasing coverage for prenatal and postnatal care regardless of their immigration status.

If undocumented immigrants have access to health insurance through their employer, they may purchase coverage for themselves and their immediate family members. Similarly, undocumented immigrants can get health coverage through a spouse or dependent that has health insurance through an employer.

For most undocumented immigrants, the only option for health insurance coverage is private health insurance.

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Can undocumented immigrants buy private health insurance?

While undocumented immigrants can purchase private health insurance plans, prices for private plans are often high.

Since private entities offer private health insurance and not the government, this type of coverage doesn’t include the option for subsidized — or cheaper — coverage.

In certain states, student health programs may cover undocumented immigrants. Additionally, some states offer state-sponsored health coverage for children eligible based on family income. This type of health insurance is available regardless of one’s immigration status. Also, some states like California allow adults under 26 to receive Medicaid.

How can undocumented immigrants purchase health insurance?

The best way to purchase health insurance as an undocumented immigrant is to compare options and prices from different private health insurance companies. Undocumented immigrants can find and compare private health insurance quotes by researching online.

Finding these quotes will help individuals determine which companies have the most affordable individual coverage. Undocumented immigrants looking for coverage for themselves and their family members should compare health insurance quotes.

How much is health insurance for undocumented immigrants?

The amount an undocumented immigrant will pay for health insurance coverage depends on several factors, including:

  • Where they live
  • Their age
  • Whether they smoke or use tobacco products
  • Whether they will purchase coverage for family members
  • The level of coverage they intend to purchase

The table below shows the average health insurance costs for private health insurance plans in each state in the U.S.

Average Health Insurance Rates by State
StateAverage Monthly Health Insurance RatesAverage Annual Health Insurance Rates% Change From Average National Health Insurance Rates
West Virginia$712$8,54043.79%
New York$701$8,41341.64%
South Dakota$561$6,73013.30%
New Jersey$543$6,5219.79%
North Carolina$521$6,2475.18%
South Carolina$462$5,550-6.56%
Rhode Island$417$4,999-15.84%
North Dakota$410$4,923-17.12%
New Mexico$350$4,196-29.36%
New Hampshire$335$4,024-32.25%
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As you can see, monthly health insurance rates for private health insurance can be expensive. It’s important to compare prices from different health insurance companies to find the cheapest option for undocumented immigrants and their family members.

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Are there cheaper options for health insurance coverage?

Undocumented immigrants can purchase cheap health insurance in some instances, but these options are often temporary.

Short-term health insurance plans can be cheaper than other, more comprehensive options for health insurance coverage. These plans offer minimal coverage, and some states will only allow this coverage for 364 days. If you choose to purchase a short-term health insurance plan, do your research to find a more permanent option before your coverage runs out.

As an undocumented worker, you will likely not find many options for health insurance coverage outside of purchasing a private plan or getting a job that covers you and your family through a group plan.

If you are searching for health insurance coverage as an undocumented immigrant, be sure to compare quotes from multiple companies before you make any decisions.