States Increasingly Offering Healthcare for Immigrants

States Increasingly Offering Healthcare for Immigrants

States are increasingly opening their taxpayer-funded health insurance exchanges to immigrants, even those in the United States illegally, providing full coverage to more than 1 million low-income migrants, and those numbers are expected to double by 2025.  

Coverage is offered in 11 states and Washington, D.C., and most of the recipients are not authorized to live in the United States, according to state information compiled by KFF Health News, NPR has reported. 

Enrollment could double by 2025 with at least seven states planning to expand or begin coverage, including Republican-controlled Utah, which will start covering healthcare for children whether or not they are in the United States legally. 

Meanwhile, California and New York are planning to expand eligibility in January to cover more adults. 

“These are kids, and we have a heart,” Utah GOP state Rep. Jim Dunnigan commented. He initially opposed the state’s plan to cover children without legal status but changed his mind after compromises were reached, including capping enrollment.

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 10 million immigrants are living in the United States without authorization. Advocates say states are opting to provide healthcare to the population after the COVID-19 pandemic showed the need to control the spread of infectious diseases.

Lawmakers are also saying hospitals are calling for expanded coverage to reduce the financial burden they’ve incurred by treating patients without insurance. 

In all states hospitals are paid to provide emergency services for unauthorized residents through the Emergency Medicaid program. Full state-provided health insurance coverage is however less common. 

Still, about half of those living in the United States without authorization are not insured, a KFF-Los Angeles Times survey has found. 

California was the first to start covering immigrants, starting with children in 2016, despite their legal status. 

The extended health coverage comes as the outcry over the growing number of immigrants increases. Border Patrol agents apprehended nearly 1.5 million people at the southern border in fiscal year 2023. 

Simon Hankinson, a Heritage Foundation senior research fellow who specializes in immigration, said states are going to regret expanding health insurance for immigrants. He commented that instead, “we need to share resources with people who contribute to society and not have people take benefits for those who have not contributed, as I don’t see how the math would work in the long run. Otherwise, you create an incentive for people to come and get free stuff.”

Sandy Fitzgerald |

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

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