Asked in Immigration Law and Health Care Law for Ohio

Q: In Ohio, are emergency rooms allowed to ask a minor about their legal status? We have Medicaid.

We have Medicaid, I took my teen to the emergency room. They asked the usual questions but then asked her if she was born outside of the U.S. I felt very uncomfortable, never had anyone in an emergency room asked this before.

2 Lawyer Answers
Kevin L Dixler
Kevin L Dixler
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Milwaukee, WI

A: Health care providers should not ask for immigration status information, nor make such inquiries! Citing the NILC, below:

"Under federal law, hospitals with emergency rooms must screen and treat people who need emergency medical services regardless of whether they have insurance, how much money they have, or their immigration status. Similarly, anyone can seek primary and preventive health care at community health centers regardless of whether they are insured, their ability to pay, or their immigration status.

Neither citizenship, lawful immigration status, nor a Social Security number are required to receive health care services under federal law. Doctors, hospitals, clinics, health centers, or other medical providers may ask for this information to find out if you may be eligible for public health insurance, like Medicaid, and how you are going to pay for services. But they should not deny medical treatment based solely on your immigration status—or based on assumptions about your immigration status they make because of the language you speak, your accent, what you look like, or whether you have an SSN. In fact, doing so may violate federal civil rights laws.

Even though health care workers have no duty to report your immigration status to law enforcement or federal immigration officials, if you are undocumented you should not provide your immigration status information to workers at a hospital, health center, or doctor’s office. If you don’t have health insurance, you may say, “I am not eligible for health insurance and do not want to apply.”

Existing policy keeps immigration officials away from hospitals and medical facilities.

The current and longstanding policy of immigration enforcement officials at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is to avoid hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities. (More information about this policy is available at

While this policy is currently in force, it could change under a future presidential administration.

You should not have to show a photo ID to receive medical treatment.

Hospitals or doctors may ask for photo identification, but not for purposes of immigration enforcement. Photo ID may be needed to show that the person getting care is the person whose name is on the medical record or on the prescription. No one should be refused treatment because they do not have a photo ID. "

For more information, review this page, below, then find out what can be done about from the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles. Contact information is available on its website.,have%2C%20or%20their%20immigration%20status.

Symantha Rhodes agrees with this answer

Symantha Rhodes
Symantha Rhodes
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Brooklyn, NY

A: According to federal law, emergency rooms are required to provide medical treatment to anyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status. Under the law, hospitals are prohibited from delaying emergency treatment to ask about a patient's immigration status. However, it is unclear whether asking is ok if asking does not affect treatment.

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