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How to Get Free Birth Control Regardless of Immigration Status in Illinois

A state program gives access to temporary coverage for reproductive health services, including birth control and STD testing.

Photo illustration by Max Herman/Borderless Magazine. Photo by TongRo Images / Alamy Stock Photo. Map from Open Street Map

A state program gives access to temporary coverage for reproductive health services, including birth control and STD testing.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago, Illinois has seen a surge in patients coming for abortions from neighboring states. 

Nearly 17,000 patients came from out of state to receive abortions in 2022, according to the Department of Public Health.

Illinois implemented programs like the HFS Family Planning Program in the wake of increased restrictions on reproductive health care nationwide.  The state program offers access to family preventative health care, including free birth control regardless of immigration status.

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The HFS Family Planning Program parallels other initiatives in Illinois to increase health care access to low-income and undocumented residents. In recent years, some of those programs have been cut back, including the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults and Seniors programs.

For many low-income and noncitizen residents, these programs are among the few available in the country that allow them access to free or low-cost health care. Many undocumented immigrants, who work in jobs that don’t cover insurance, are ineligible for federally funded low-income insurance programs, while others face financial barriers to access health care.

These state health care programs reduce barriers and can have profound impacts on undocumented communities that face historically low insurance rates

The HFS Family Planning Program offers ongoing and temporary coverage plans. The temporary coverage plan, known as Family Planning Presumptive Eligibility (FPPE), is available to any Illinois resident regardless of their immigration status.

Katie Thiede, cofounder and executive director of the advocacy group Illinois Contraceptive Access Now (ICAN!) says the FFPE program is a great option for health care.  

“When someone shows up [at an FPPE center] who has not enrolled [in insurance], they don’t have to make another appointment,” Thiede said. “They can get their coverage that day. There’s no delay in coverage or care.”

Borderless compiled a guide on what you need to know about the HFS Family Planning Program and FPPE, and how it can help you access reproductive health care services.

1) What is the HFS Family Planning Program?

It’s a way for Illinois residents to access health care related to birth control, family planning, pregnancy prevention and reproductive health. 

The HFS Family Planning Program has two forms of coverage: an ongoing coverage option or a temporary coverage plan. The temporary plan, known as the Family Planning Presumptive Eligibility program, is available to low-income Illinois residents regardless of their immigration status. 

The long-term coverage option is restricted to U.S. citizens and certain qualifying groups, such as those with refugee or asylum status.

Temporary FPPE coverage can provide free access to FDA-approved methods of birth control, emergency contraception, IUDs, STI testing and treatment, cervical cancer screenings, abortion and miscarriage management.

FPPE is only for reproductive health care services; the program does not cover routine medical check-ups or medical support for other needs such as the common cold, infectious diseases or bodily fractures or sprains. 

For a full list of what is covered by the Family Planning Presumptive Eligibility (FPPE) program, you can check out Illinois Contraceptive Access Now’s website or infographic here.

2) Am I eligible for the program?

All low-income Illinois residents, regardless of their immigration status, age or gender, are eligible for temporary health care coverage through FPPE. To qualify as “low-income,” you must make less than $3,500 a month, ($42,000 a year) before taxes.

You will not be asked questions about your immigration status when applying for FPPE coverage. You will be asked to verbally verify information on the application, such as your income. 

To be eligible, you cannot be enrolled in Medicaid or other full coverage from state medical programs. 

You will not qualify for the HFS Family Planning Program if you are already pregnant, but you may instead qualify for the Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility (MPE) Program, a similar temporary healthcare coverage program available to noncitizens. More details about MPE can be found here.

3) How do I sign up?

You can enroll in FPPE coverage at a designated Family Planning provider. A full list of Family Planning providers can be found on the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services page here.

Once you go to a Family Planning provider location, you can ask about enrolling in FPPE coverage. The Family Planning provider will decide if you qualify for FPPE. If approved, you can receive same-day care.

You will not have to provide any documentation regarding your citizenship status, income or residency. You will need to verbally confirm your information.

4) How long will my coverage last?

FPPE coverage lasts through the end of the following month after you enroll, which can be between 31-60 days. For example, if you enroll in FPPE on July 15, your coverage will run through the following month, or until August 31. 

You can apply for FPPE coverage two times every calendar year. 

5) Will this count toward public charge?

No, FPPE benefits do not count toward public charge. 

For more information,  you can check out ICAN!’s website here, or visit the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services page here.

You can find additional guides for free food, low-cost and free mental health services and more here.