You may be wondering how recent executive orders and federal immigration policies will affect your access to health care. Never postpone necessary health care out of fear that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will negatively impact your immigration status.
Access to health care and government insurance coverage
Your access to health care
The President’s Executive Orders can’t prevent you from getting health care, even if you are an immigrant patient.
Health care providers do not have to verify your immigration or citizenship status and can help you regardless. Emergency departments can also provide emergency care without asking about immigration, citizenship, or insurance status.
Your access to government insurance coverage
If you receive government-subsidized health care or apply for government insurance (such as MassHealth or Health Safety Net), it will not affect your immigration status. You must disclose your immigration status to apply for government-subsidized health insurance.
Your access to MassHealth coverage
The President’s Executive Orders do not prevent you from receiving MassHealth coverage or other government-subsidized services, regardless of your citizenship status.
If you are applying for your own coverage, you will need to disclose your immigration status. If you are applying for coverage for someone else in your household, you only need to disclose the immigration status of whoever is seeking coverage (not yourself or anyone else in the household).
Your access to Massachusetts coverage options regardless of citizenship status
You can access programs for low-income adults and children regardless of your immigration or citizenship status. For more information on programs you can access, read about MassHealth Limited or connect with the Health Safety Net.
ICE enforcement activities
ICE enforcement policies at health care centers
ICE cannot detain you at a hospital or similar places such as doctors’ offices, health clinics, and urgent care centers.
ICE has recognized health care centers as sensitive locations where enforcement activities like searches and arrests are not allowed. The only time when ICE can engage in enforcement activities at sensitive locations is under special circumstances or if they have prior approval.
For more information on sensitive locations, visit the ICE website.
If an ICE agent approaches you or your medical practice asking for access to a patient, consult your organization’s policies. This may include contacting legal counsel. Because health care centers are sensitive locations, this is not likely to occur.
How can ICE access patient information?
Both federal and state privacy laws guard protected health information (PHI) held by health care providers, regardless of a patient’s visa, immigration, or residency status. If an ICE agent approaches you or your medical practice asking for patient information, consult your organization's policies. Before releasing anyone’s PHI, you must comply with federal and state privacy law requirements.
Protecting patient information
Health care providers should only collect and maintain as much patient immigration or citizenship information as necessary for treatment. Providers should consult with their organization’s policies and procedures related to the collection and release of patient information.
Educating patients about their rights
Health care providers can also protect patients by educating them on their constitutional rights. You can post information about rights, distribute information to patients, and host information sessions.
Providers should consider any limitations that could prevent them from using funds for this purpose, especially restrictions related to grants.
Contacting the Attorney General’s Office
If you have questions or need further assistance regarding health care, call the Attorney General’s Health Care Division at (888) 830-6277 or contact the division online.
If you have questions or need further assistance regarding your rights, call the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division at (617) 963-2917 or contact the division online.