Research Brief: The Benefits of Health Coverage for Immigrants in Illinois

Executive Summary:

The benefits of providing health coverage extend not only to the individual, but also to their family,  community, and society at large. Illinois was once a leading state in providing health coverage to low- income immigrants, notably becoming the first state to expand coverage to undocumented children in 2006. Continuing its efforts, in 2020, Illinois became the first state to provide Medicaid-like coverage to low-income seniors aged 65 and older, regardless of their immigration status, through its Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors (HBIS) program. Building upon this pioneering program, Illinois expanded health coverage for low-income immigrant adults aged 55-64 in 2021, and subsequently extended it to those aged 42-54 in 2022, under its Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults (HBIA) program. Now, Illinois’ commitment to ensuring all of its residents have health coverage has been surpassed, most recently by California.

Moreover, HBIA and HBIS use the same federal poverty income eligibility limits as federal Medicaid, providing health coverage to Illinois residents who would otherwise qualify for Medicaid but are ineligible due to their immigration status. In that sense, HBIA and HBIS establish parity with federal Medicaid for a population that otherwise would be excluded. This research brief will provide context and highlight the value added to Illinois by extending targeted medical coverage to low-income undocumented adults through the HBIA and HBIS programs.


Media Coverage:



Matthew D. Wilson, Ph.D.
Associate Director of Economic & Workforce Development, UIC Great Cities Institute.

Samantha Sepulveda
Research Assistant, UIC Great Cities Institute.



Read and Download the Full Report Here.