Know Your Rights: Health Care For Undocumented People

*Esta información está disponible en español aquí: Conozca Sus Derechos: El Sistema de Salud Para Personas Indocumentadas

Undocumented people have the right to….

  • Receive care in the emergency room regardless of insurance or ability to pay
  • Have all medical care translated into your own language
  • Decline to give an ID or Social Security Number
  • Receive copies of all medical records including lab results and imaging
  • Receive medical care without discrimination based on race, ethnicity, immigration status, language, sexual orientation, gender, ability, or socioeconomic status
  • Have your medical information kept confidential
  • Make your own medical decisions and understand what is happening with your health

When the receptionist asks…


“What is your social security number?”


“I don’t qualify for one, what are your options for low income patients?”


You do not need to say you are undocumented.


“Do you have health insurance, like medicaid, or medicare?”


“I do not have insurance and I do not qualify for medicaid or medicare. Can I please speak with a financial assistance counselor to discuss options?”

Questions to ask to better understand your medical care…

“What is my diagnosis?”

“What is this medicine for?”

“What are its side effects?”  

“What options do I have for treatment?”  

“What can I do to prevent this from happening again?”  

“What are the next steps?

Financial Assistance Programs for Undocumented Patients in Illinois

  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Free/Low Cost Clinics – Health centers like Erie Family, Heartland, Alivio, Access, Howard Brown, Aunt Martha’s, PCC, Lawndale Community, Esperanza, and others. The range of services vary, but can include prenatal, dental and mental health options on top of primary care needs. Costs are on a sliding scale – most do not cost more than $40 for a regular visit. There are over 700 throughout Illinois. A list available of all of these clinics at:
  • Stroger Hospital & Cook County Health Clinics – These public hospitals and clinics provide significant discounts to people who can’t pay regardless of documents. They also offer a program called Carelink, which is a kind of county insurance with primary care and specialists.
  • ACCESS DuPage – “Access DuPage is a collaborative effort by thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations in DuPage County to provide access to medical services to the county’s low-income, medically uninsured residents.”
  • Charity Care – All hospitals in Chicago are required to provide a set amount of emergency care and financial assistance to uninsured patients without regard to their immigration status.  In order to qualify, patients must ask to fill out the Hospital Financial Assistance Application as soon as possible.  
  • Emergency Medicaid – Undocumented people can qualify for Emergency Medicaid for serious medical conditions that occur suddenly and unexpectedly and require immediate medical attention. This can cover some dialysis and cancer treatments too.  Ask to apply with a financial counselor in the emergency room.
  • All Kids, Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility, & Moms and Babies – These three state programs provide medical coverage to pregnant women and children regardless of immigration status.  
  • Negotiate! – Hospitals and clinics regularly bill patients for more money than they charge to insurance companies.  Generally hospitals and clinics are open to negotiation if you are paying out of pocket.  If you receive a bill, call the phone number on your bill and tell them you cannot afford the amount.  Ask them to lower the bill, ask about any other financial assistance programs they have, and ask about payment plans.

*More details available here

If you have any questions about your healthcare rights or would like to get help with a case please contact us:

Phone: 708-646-7836 or 630-632-2189