Approximately one quarter of individuals living in California are considered immigrants. This means that 10 million people are living in our state were born in another country. However, there are different classifications of immigrants, and whatever category an immigrant fits in may also determine their eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.
With certain exceptions, legal immigrants are required to have health coverage by January 1st. Ones exempt of this requirement could be immigrants who cannot find what the act defines as affordable coverage. Unfortunately, it's not entirely clear as to which individuals with temporary visas will be required to have health insurance as of that date. This is a question that should be addressed to an experienced immigration attorney.
For naturalized citizens, there are other programs like Medi-Cal that low income residents may be able to apply for. There are also potential tax credits available on California's health insurance exchange. Lawful permanent residents may also be eligible for these tax credits and in some instances may be eligible for expanded Medi-Cal.
As the ACA currently stands, undocumented immigrants will not be allowed to participate in the program. However, they may be able to receive emergency or prenatal treatment. And while a parent who is undocumented may not be able to qualify, children that were born in this country could be eligible for health care benefits. There is also Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients that may not participate in the health insurance exchange but who are eligible for Medi-Cal.
It's best that one does not make assumptions concerning eligibility in any case. Being eligible for medical care in our country is far too important to leave it to chance. Please do address any questions or concerns to an immigration attorney concerning health care needs.
Source: Center for Health Reporting, "Covered California affects immigrants, too," Emily Bazar, Dec. 3, 2013