Immigrants and the Affordable Care Act: Changes in Coverage and Access to Care by Documentation Status

J Immigr Minor Health. 2022 Feb;24(1):86-94. doi: 10.1007/s10903-020-01124-0. Epub 2020 Nov 25.


Little is known about the effects of the ACA's coverage expansion among immigrant groups of differing immigration status. Using data from the California Health Interview Survey (2003-2016), we compare changes in health coverage and access to care among immigrants in California before and after implementation of the ACA. We find that the ACA has led to major gains in coverage for lawful permanent residents in California, similar in scope to changes among citizens. However, unauthorized immigrants have experienced only modest increases in coverage, with the result disparity in uninsured rates for this group relative to citizens and permanent residents widening considerably since 2014. Findings indicate a significant increase in having a usual source of care across all groups, but without a significant change in disparities for this outcome. Our results have important implications for the intersection of health policy, immigration, and health equity.

Keywords: ACA; Access to care; Coverage; Immigrants; Immigration status.

MeSH terms

  • Documentation
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Insurance, Health
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act*
  • United States