Q: I’m a legal resident in the United States, but not a citizen. My job doesn’t offer health insurance, and I haven’t been able to afford individual coverage in the past. Does the Affordable Care Act help me?
A: Yes. Legal U.S. residents have the same eligibility as citizens to receive subsidies for health insurance purchased in the exchange. Since you don’t have an option for coverage through your employer, you can receive a subsidy to help pay your premiums and reduce the out-of-pocket costs (Silver plan only) for your policy as long as your household income does not exceed 400 percent of federal poverty level.
But the ACA also includes a provision to assist legal residents who have incomes below 100 percent of poverty level. Since most legal permanent residents are not eligible for Medicaid until they have been in the U.S. for five years, many lawfully present individuals would have found themselves in a situation where they earned too little (less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level) to qualify for exchange subsidies but were also not eligible for Medicaid – even in states that are expanding Medicaid – based on the amount of time they had been in the United States.
So lawmakers included a provision in the ACA that allows legal aliens with household incomes under 100 percent of poverty level to receive exchange subsidies at the level they would if their income was equal to 100 percent of poverty level (see page 113).