Undocumented People And the HFS Family Planning Program

Living as an undocumented person in this country can be scary – especially when you need to access the services that so many Americans take for granted. When it comes to health insurance, it’s estimated that around half of the undocumented population nationally (46%) is uninsured. By comparison, 8% of U.S. citizens are uninsured. And despite expanded coverage options for undocumented people we know that it can still be hard to access care: limited translation support at the health center, jobs with inflexible hours, lack of childcare options, and other factors can prevent people from actually being able to see a doctor.

We have some good news, though. In November 2022, Illinois implemented the HFS Family Planning Program – a new, statewide coverage program for sexual and reproductive healthcare that covers all FDA approved birth control methods, STI testing/treatment, breast and cervical cancer screening, abortion care, and more. You can qualify for the program if you make about $3500 a month or less before taxes ($42,000 a year), are a resident of Illinois, and are not currently on other public insurance, such as Medicaid. If you’re undocumented, you can get immediate, temporary coverage for 31-60 days (depending on when you go into the health center) if you meet all of these criteria. You’ll be able to access all the benefits covered under the program for that 31-60 day period immediately on the day you go into the health center to apply.

You might be telling yourself, okay, that’s great. But how do I access “temporary, immediate coverage”? It’s pretty simple: go to a health center that offers “Family Planning Presumptive Eligibility” (FPPE) and ask to be enrolled in the HFS Family Planning Program. Use ICAN!’s Provider Finder to find a site that offers “FPPE” using the search function.  At the health center, they will ask you to “self-attest” to your income and residency. “Self-attesting” means you will just have to tell the health center that you make about $3500 a month or less before taxes, and that you live in Illinois. You will not need to provide any documents or proof for either of those statements. And you will not have to answer any questions about U.S. citizenship–or be at risk of public charge by applying for immediate, temporary coverage. And that’s it! You can now access all the services covered by the program for 1-2 months depending on which day you went into the health center to “self-attest”. And actually you can access temporary coverage twice per calendar year–so, you could apply once at the beginning of the year, and again several months down the road.

Undocumented people can access temporary, immediate coverage under the HFS Family Planning Program. (But not full coverage: if you were to try to fill out an application for full, continuous coverage using the “ABE” portal on the IL.gov website, you would have to respond to a question about your citizenship status.) For now, think of accessing temporary, immediate coverage as a great way  to get access to all birth control methods, STI testing, abortion care, and more, without needing to worry about whether you can afford it. You can learn more about the HFS Family Planning Program from ICAN! here and from the official HFS site here. (If you have any questions, you can always contact us.) And make sure to tell your friends, family, and peers about this program! It’s brand new and a lot of people still don’t know about it. In these strange times we live in–any little act of community service means a lot.

Thanks for reading–and take care of yourselves.

By Isha Datta