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Green Card Holders and Qualifying For Medicare: Common Questions

A permanent resident of the U.S. may qualify to get Medicare if they have a green card, have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 continuous years and qualifies based on a disability or by reaching age 65. Learn more about how Medicare eligibility works and how to enroll.

A green card, officially known as a Permanent Residence Card, allows immigrants to live and work permanently in the United States. It also gives them the same rights, benefits, and privileges of citizens born in this country. One caveat? Medicare coverage.

Green card holders may qualify for Medicare depending on how many years they’ve lived in the United States and whether or not they are 65 years old or qualify for Medicare due to a disability or health condition.

This article explores what green card holders need to know about Medicare coverage and how to apply.

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Can a non-U.S. citizen get Medicare?

Yes, a non-citizen who is a permanent resident of the United States may be eligible for Medicare if they have a green card, are 65 years of age or older (or qualify due to a disability) and have lived in the United States for at least five continuous years.

Once they meet these requirements, they can generally enroll in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance). They can also enroll in Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C) that includes prescription drug coverage.

Is Medicare free for green card holders?

Medicare Part A is only premium-free for green card holders if they (or their spouse) have worked and paid Medicare taxes in the United States for 10 years or more. The same work requirements are also necessary to receive Social Security retirement benefits.

If the green card holder has a work history of fewer than 10 years, they will likely pay a premium for Medicare Part A. All Medicare beneficiaries – including green card holders and U.S. citizens – pay a premium for Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D.

What can green card holders expect in terms of monthly premiums? In 2021, Medicare Part A premiums can cost up to $471 per month, while the 2021 standard Medicare Part B premium is $148.50 per month. Medicare Part D premiums may vary, depending upon the Medicare plan selected. In addition, other types of Medicare coverage, available from private insurance companies, may also charge monthly premiums.

Note: To a avoid Part A and/or Part B late enrollment penalty, be sure to sign up when you’re first eligible for Medicare.

Not sure whether or when you’re eligible for Medicare Parts A and B or how much you’ll pay? Check out this Medicare calculator to learn more about your specific eligibility and premium amount. Green card holders can also visit the U.S. Medicare department online at Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

What Medicare options do new immigrants (i.e., those who have not lived in the U.S. for five consecutive years) have?

New immigrants are not eligible for Medicare coverage. However, they may be able to purchase other private health insurance or buy temporary health insurance in the United States for non-U.S. citizens.

Can undocumented immigrants get Medicare?

No, undocumented immigrants are not eligible to receive Medicare.

What other public benefits can a green card holder receive?

In addition to Medicare, green card holders may be eligible to receive a number of federal and state benefits, such as:

  • Social Security benefits
  • Medicaid
  • Health insurance coverage through the health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Section 8 housing

Can green card holders enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan?

Yes, as permanent residents, green card holders usually have the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan as long as they’re already enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

Learn more about Medicare by reading our Spanish Recursos de Medicare, or call today to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare Medicare plans available where you live.

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Lisa

About the author

Lisa Eramo is an independent health care writer whose work appears in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association, Healthcare Financial Management Association, For The Record Magazine, Medical Economics, Medscape and more.

Lisa studied creative writing at Hamilton College and obtained a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University. She is a member of the American Health Information Management Association, American Academy of Professional Coders, Society of Professional Journalists, Association of Health Care Journalists and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Lisa currently resides in Cranston, Rhode Island with her wife and two-year-old twin boys.

 

Website: LisaEramo.com

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Twitter: @Lisa_Eramo