Freedom Benefits solutions with Tony Novak CPA, MBA, MT

Health insurance help for illegal immigrants

My free online advisory service launched in the 1990s provides bits of financial advice to people; mostly on issues related to small business operation. The topical subjects of these questions have shifted over time and now quite often come from people who have trouble finding affordable health insurance or covering uninsured health care expenses. I presume this means that people are more concerned about health care issues than other personal financial issues now than in the past. Apparently I’m one of the few advisers licensed throughout the U.S. in health insurance who offers this type of support to international travelers and immigrants regardless of their legal status.

The most basic fact, often misunderstood, is that commercial insurance companies don’t care about your legal immigration status. Insurance applications do not require that you disclose your citizenship, a social security number or tax ID number. An insurance company will not ask about your citizenship or visa status. They do not communicate with USCIS. Being a non-citizen can actually be an advantage when buying health insurance because the tough provisions of the Affordable Care Act do not apply. A point of tension lately is that immigrants (both documented and undocumented) excluded from Obamacare provisions so they can buy custom-designed private health insurance on more favorable terms than U.S. citizens. Over the years I’ve build a good relationship with the administrators of a health insurance plan called “Inbound Immigrant” and have referred many of their current policyholders. The coverage is available to anyone who has been in the U.S. for less than two years and the policy can be kept for up to five years.

The second fact is that nobody has a very good solution to our national health care crisis. The best I can do is to offer partial solutions and lower the impact of high health care costs. I can only estimate that perhaps about a thousand of these requests cam from illegal immigrants. When I sold part of my business to n online publisher years ago, the company made it clear that I was not to speak or write about this aspect during the three year period of our non-compete clause.

Today I received this message through OnlineAdviser: “My mother brought me to the U.S when I was 8 months old. I’ve been here for 34+ years but unfortunately I have not been able to fix my immigration status. My question is which insurance company will take my ITIN number and can it cover infertility treatments?”

The other information seems to indicate a young woman who has risen in socioeconomic status but has not been able to resolve citizenship issues. I hear from many others with similar stories.

My response:

“Hi Jennifer. Right now the only easily available options are limited benefit medical insurance policies, sometimes called “mini-med plans” that do not cover fertility treatment. See as one of the most popular in this class.

Any of the plans listed on our website are available to you without immigration status fixed. ITIN is valid on any application.”

Today’s newspaper coverage of health care reform efforts indicates that the latest Republican health plan is likely to lead to a removal of infertility coverage and stripping down of other benefits in insurance policies anyway, so perhaps the options available now in this young woman’s situation will prove similar to the norm even for U.S. citizens in the near future.


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