Know your rights to health care

Will my information be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if I go to the hospital or clinic?

Healthcare workers have no duty to report your immigration status to law enforcement or federal immigration officials. However, if you are undocumented, you should not provide your immigration status to workers at a hospital, health center, or doctor’s office, unless applying for benefits or coverage options.

New York City has a policy to protect immigration status and other confidential information. NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H) employees CANNOT give your information to ANYONE else without authorization by the patient or without being required to do so by law. NYC H+H released a statement saying that when a patient, regardless of status, visits one of their health care facilities, H+H will not collect information about immigration status, or release patient information without authorization by the patient or without being required to do so by law.

Will ICE detain me at a hospital or clinic?

The current and longstanding policy of immigration enforcement officials at ICE is to avoid hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergency or urgent care facilities. While this policy is currently in force, it could change.

Hospitals or doctors may ask for photo ID, but not for purposes of immigration enforcement. Photo ID may be needed to show that the person getting care is the person whose name is on the medical record or on the prescription. No one should be refused treatment because they do not have a photo ID.

Can I go to the doctor even if I am undocumented?

Everyone has the right to seek care at primary and preventative health care community centers regardless of whether they are insured, their ability to pay, or their immigration status.

Hospitals with emergency rooms must screen and treat people who need emergency medical services regardless of whether they have insurance, how much money they have, and their immigration status.

Will I be able to receive services in Spanish at the hospital or when applying for health insurance?

Regardless of your immigration status, you have a right to an interpreter at no cost, whether you are applying for health insurance or seeking care at a hospital, community health center, or visiting a chain pharmacy in NYS. Children should not be asked to translate for their parents or other adults, especially in a healthcare setting. Hospitals and community health centers may use bilingual staff, telephone interpretation services, or qualified in-person interpreters to provide language assistance services for patients.

What are my health care options if I am uninsured and undocumented?

  • Emergency room care
  • Community health centers, public and safety-net hospitals
  • Public health services (immunizations, mental health, screening and treatment for communicable diseases such as HIV, sexually transmitted infections)
  • Programs providing health services necessary to protect life or safety (emergency medical, food/shelter, mental health crisis, domestic violence, crime victim assistance, disaster relief)
  • Treatment for an emergency medical condition under “Emergency Medicaid”
  • Financial assistance or “charity care” programs at community health centers and most hospitals (including H+H)
  • Child Health Plus insurance for children under 19
  • Medicaid for Pregnant Women
  • Family Planning Extension Program
  • AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)
  • Big Apple Rx

Can I apply for or renew my health insurance if I am an immigrant and is my information protected?

Yes! You should apply for and renew health insurance if you are eligible. Strong privacy rules protect families applying for health insurance, including families whose members have different immigration statuses. Any information provided while applying for insurance may only be used to determine the individual’s eligibility for the program, not for immigration enforcement purposes.

If you don’t have a Social Security number (SSN), you are not required to provide one. Only people who have a valid SSN are required to provide one.