Undocumented immigrants in the United States face various challenges when accessing physical or mental health services.
Migrant families in the United States often face barriers when accessing health services. A common situation among undocumented immigrants is that seeking medical attention represents a risk of deportation.
Many families of mixed immigration status may question the safety of seeking physical or mental health services, given the increased actions of immigration agencies. For this reason, it is important to keep in mind that there are very strict privacy rules that protect patients in hospitals and health clinics, regardless of their immigration status.
One of the simplest aspects that migrants should know is that no hospital or clinic can deny them access to their services because they are undocumented. In fact, hospitals and their employees shouldn't ask for that information in the first place.
Here are some details immigrants should keep in mind:
- The Affordable Care Act is an option for families without health insurance.
- There are very strict privacy rules that protect families applying for health insurance, even those whose members have different immigration statuses.
- If you don't have health insurance, you have certain health care options regardless of your immigration status, such as emergency room care, public health services like immunizations and HIV screening, and free community health centers and clinics.
- Medical professionals should not ask about the immigration status of their patients.
- Current policy says immigration agents must stay away from hospitals and medical facilities.
- No one is required to show an identity document to receive medical treatment.
On the other hand, there are other US government tools to access mental health services without being a beneficiary of a federal program or having irregular immigration status. For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) tool: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. All you have to do is enter your zip code, to find services anonymously and confidentially.
SAMHSA also has telephone helplines, such as the 24/7 Suicide Prevention Lifeline that provides free support: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It also has the National Helpline, which provides free information and refers users to professionals: 1-800-662-HELP (4357).