What do I need to know about taking care of my family in the United States?

The cost of health care in the United States is very expensive and most people have their own medical insurance. The Affordable Care Act is a government program allowing you to select your own medical insurance based on the family income. This program gives you choices and options for coverage, deductible amounts and prescription medications. Many employers offer medical insurance as part of their benefits package. Most require that the employer pay a portion of the cost. There are also inexpensive and/ or free programs offered by the U.S. Federal Government through the state you reside in. Though, there are specific requirements that you need to comply with in order to be considered for these programs.

Health Insurance

Whether you are choosing your own health insurance or are covered by a policy through your employer, you will typically have a list of doctors, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies included in the coverage. Selecting your own health insurance could mean a higher cost to you, unless you have applied for the Affordable Health Care during the specific signup times. When you seek medical care, there is typically a ‘deductible’ dollar amount that needs to be met and you will need to pay. The amount varies, depending upon the policy. Once met, there will be a ‘co-pay’ that you pay for the medical services and prescriptions. The medical facility will need a copy of your health insurance card and they will take care of billing any balances to your insurance company.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services do provide some basic health care services for immigrants. Depending upon your location, you may be able to find free or low-cost clinics in your area. To locate these, please visit their webpage. You will be requested to type in your zip code to find the nearest location.

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Other medical help

Many states provide discounted or free assistance for children. Also, there are hospitals and clinics which provide medical care at Urgent Care or emergency rooms. If you cannot pay, some of these hospitals will help you complete the paperwork for Federal and State program assistance.

Medicaid is a health program set up between the Federal Government and the state that you reside in for low income individuals. Each state has their own guidelines. Medicaid will pay for medical doctors and hospitalization. If you are a permanent resident who entered the country prior to August 22, 1996, you may qualify for Medicaid. If you entered after that date but have been in the U.S. for over five years, you may also qualify.

Medicare is a health program established for residents 65 years or older. The program does not cover all types of medical situations, but there are additional programs that you can sign up for that do involve a cost. All of these programs are at greatly reduced rates, when compared to standard health insurance. For information call 1-800772-1213 or go to their website.

Additional available programs will be dependent upon your immigration status and income. The Food Stamp Program allows you to get certain food items for free at the grocery stores. Each state has its own funded program. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is also different in each state, but allows families to get free help. For information call: 1-877-543-7669 or visit Insure Kids Now. You will need to enter your state name at the prompt.

Assistance for Disabled Immigrants is a program set up to offer immigrants listed as disabled for help with Medicaid, food stamps and Supplemental Security Income.  Qualification for the program will be dependent upon your immigration status, income and the length of time you have been in the U.S.


For more information go to the Social Security webpage.

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