Are Green Card Holders Eligible for Medicare?

U.S. Green Card holders are eligible for Medicare. However, the length of time you’ve lived and worked in the U.S. could affect the type of coverage you can get. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated there were more than two million lawful permanent residents (LPR) aged 65 or older living in the United States in 2019. With this number rising each year, understanding how Green Card holders can receive Medicare benefits is more vital than ever.

Learn if and when you’re eligible for Medicare to make more informed healthcare choices for you and your loved ones.

Stethoscope and a Medicare Parts list attached to a clipboard
Stethoscope and a Medicare Parts list attached to a clipboard. These Medicare coverage parts may be available to eligible Green Card holders.

What Does Medicare Coverage Include?

Medicare is the federal system of health insurance. Before discussing how a Green Card holder could be eligible for Medicare, it may be helpful to lay out the four parts of Medicare and what they generally include: 

  • Part A: Is hospital insurance that covers skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and inpatient hospital stays
  • Part B: Provides coverage for doctor visits, preventative services, some medical supplies, and outpatient care
  • Part C: Also called Medicare Advantage, is an Original Medicare alternative provided by private insurance companies approved by the federal government
  • Part D: Covers prescription medications

What Are the Medicare Eligibility Requirements as a Green Card Holder?

Several factors dictate whether lawful U.S. residents are eligible for Medicare. As we’ve mentioned, the main two are the span of time you’ve worked during your residence in America and how long you’ve lived here. 

Though there are instances where if you fail to meet the Medicare prerequisites, but your spouse does, you could still qualify for coverage under Medicare.

Part A Medicare Coverage

Typically, permanent residents need to meet the basic citizenship and residency requirements for Part A coverage. For instance, to qualify as a Green Card holder, you must be at least 65 years old. 

Additionally, you or your spouse must have had a job in the United States for a minimum of 10 years, or 40 quarters over your lifetime. 

Do I Have to Pay for Medicare Part A? 

Eligibility for premium-free Part A Medicare is determined by your earnings or those of a spouse, parent, or child. Medicare is funded through payroll taxes and the amount of time worked, called quarters of coverage (QCs).

To receive Part A coverage premium-free, you must have worked for a specific number of QCs and filed an application for Social Security or with the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). Exactly how many QCs are required depends on whether you are filing based on age, disability, or End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). 

If you aren’t eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A benefits, you could still be allowed to purchase coverage. Additionally, if you worked for fewer than 10 years, you could still qualify for Medicare; however, you’ll pay more for those benefits.

Part B Medicare Coverage 

Medicare Part B coverage is voluntary and contingent on the amount you made in your working days rather than the time you worked. 

And because everyone must pay a monthly premium for Part B coverage, permanent citizens who have worked in the U.S. for 20 to 30 years will still be required to pay. 

Am I Eligible for Medicare Part B, Medical Insurance?

Eligibility guidelines differ depending on whether you qualify for premium-free Part A coverage. If you are eligible for free Part A Medicare, you will be allowed to enroll in Part B. 

However, those required to pay the premium for Part A coverage will only be allowed to do so after they purchase coverage under Part B. Additionally, to enroll in Part B, they must also be:

  • Aged 65 or older
  • A U.S. resident
  • A naturalized U.S. citizen
  • A Green Card holder lawfully admitted into the United States for permanent residence 

How Long Do I Have to Be a Permanent Resident Before I Apply for Medicare? 

To qualify for Medicare coverage, you must have lived in the U.S and established residency for five continuous years prior to the month you file for coverage.

If your residency falls short of the required time, you might still be eligible for coverage. For example, this might be the case if you are married to a citizen or fully insured Green Card holder for a minimum of an entire calendar year.

What Happens if I Fail to Enroll When I’m First Eligible for Medicare? 

If you choose not to enroll for Medicare when you’re first eligible, you’ll incur penalties whether you are a permanent resident or a naturalized citizen. 

For instance, if you delay purchasing Part A coverage, your premium may jump by 10% for two times the number of years you put off receiving the benefit. For Part B coverage, your premium could go up 10% for every year you postpone coverage.

The amount you might have to pay if you delay Part D coverage is more complicated. Medicare determines this penalty amount based on the length of coverage delay and multiplying 1% of the national base beneficiary premium.

Discover More About Green Card Holder Medicare Eligibility

Learning more about costs and eligibility for Medicare for Green Card holders can give you a better idea of whether you qualify and have the means to pay for this government benefit. 

To find out what Medicare plan or coverage will work in your situation, visit the Medicare website, and input your information into their eligibility and premium calculator

For information on applying to becoming a naturalized citizen or other immigration-related questions or concerns, visit FileRight today.

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