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Medicare for Green Card Holders and Immigrants

Medicare, the federal health insurance system for people who are 65 years and older, is available to citizens of the United States and many permanent legal residents. But is it possible for non-U.S. citizens to apply for and receive Medicare coverage?

If you or your loved ones are Green Card holders or another type of permanent U.S. residents, you may have questions about Medicare eligibility. These questions may be more pressing depending upon your age. 

Additionally, if your parents have recently immigrated to the United States and are older than 65, you may be wondering about whether or not they have access to Medicare. Let’s walk through the specifics of how and when non-citizens are eligible for Medicare coverage.

Are non-U.S. citizens eligible for Medicare?

Non-U.S. citizens can be eligible for access to Medicare coverage, but it largely depends on requirements related to your working life and duration of time spent in the U.S. There is also the age requirement of being 65 years or older or having another health qualification, such as a disability, ALS or ESRD.

If an immigrant wants to purchase health insurance for use while in the country, there are options available outside of Medicare, including Green Card Holders Medical Insurance.

Medicare Eligibility Requirements for Permanent Residents

The simplest way to attain Medicare eligibility is to have lived in the United States as a legal permanent resident, be older than 65 and have worked in the U.S. for at least 40 quarters (10 years). You may also be eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A if you’ve received Social Security retirement benefits, Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). You’ll still owe a premium for Medicare Part B.

What is a Green Card holder?

A Green Card holder is a legal permanent resident of the U.S. that has been granted the ability to live and work here on a permanent basis. The term “Green Card” refers to the permanent resident card, which is also a form of identification.

Green Card Eligibility

Green Card eligibility can depend on many different factors, one of which is through sponsorship by employment, family or an investment. Refugees and asylum seekers are also eligible for a Green Card under certain circumstances. You may be eligible to apply for a Green Card as one of, but not limited to, the following conditions:

  • Sponsorship from a family member who is a U.S. citizen, either as an immediate relative or a spouse
  • Sponsorship from an employer that is based in the U.S.
  • Widower of a U.S. citizen
  • Immigrant worker with an extraordinary ability in tech, medicine, or science
  • Refugee or asylum seeker
  • Victim of human trafficking or other crimes

For full eligibility requirements or for questions about Green Card application, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

When can a Green Card holder apply for Medicare?

Green card members can apply for Medicare once they have qualified, which is similar to how U.S. citizens qualify, provided they’ve been in the country long enough. If they or their spouse have worked in the United States for a minimum of 40 quarters (10 years) and have paid Medicare taxes, they can then apply for Medicare.

Newer immigrants or permanent residents may still be able to apply for Medicare through the U.S. government, provided they meet some basic standards. For example, they must have been permanent residents of the United States for five years, which shows they’ve established a permanent home in the country. Previous visits or vacations do not count. 

It’s important to recognize that Medicare for immigrants may cost more than it does for U.S. Citizens. Citizens who have Medicare typically receive premium-free Medicare Part A coverage because they’ve paid the necessary taxes while working in the U.S. If immigrants don’t have this kind of qualifying work history, they’ll likely pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A coverage. Medicare Part B requires everyone to pay a monthly premium, so they’ll be responsible for that cost as well.

If a permanent resident decides to enroll in both Medicare Part A and Part B, they have the option to also participate in Medicare Advantage plans. These plans offer both the services and coverage of Original Medicare (Parts A and B), but often include additional benefits such as dental and vision coverage, prescription drug coverage, wellness memberships and more. 

SelectQuote can help you determine if you meet Medicare eligibility requirements.

Whether you’re a U.S citizen who has just turned 65 or are a permanent resident seeking to understand if you qualify for Medicare, SelectQuote can help. We can help determine your eligibility for Medicare coverage and help you shop for Medicare plans to find the one that’s right for you. Get started on your free, no obligation quote today.

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