Medicare is a federal health insurance program that provides coverage primarily for individuals aged 65 and older, as well as certain individuals with disabilities or specific health conditions. However, the eligibility of parents with green cards for Medicare in the United States is a topic that often raises questions and confusion. In this blog post, we will explore the requirements and options available for immigrant parents to qualify for Medicare.
Medicare Requirements for Green Card Holders
For immigrant parents who hold a green card, there are specific criteria they must meet to qualify for Medicare. One of the main requirements is having worked at a job for at least 40 quarters (10 years) and paying Medicare taxes. Alternatively, if the individual’s spouse qualifies for Medicare through their work history and is at least 65 years old, they can enroll in Medicare as a green card holder.
In cases where green card holders do not have a work history paying Medicare taxes, but are at least 65 years of age and have been legally residing in the United States for five consecutive years, they can purchase Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) by paying its premium. Non-U.S. citizens over 65 with disabilities can also qualify for Medicare if they meet the eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Residency Requirement and Enrolling in Medicare
To qualify for Medicare, immigrant parents with permanent residency must have been living in the United States for at least five years. The five-year residency period typically begins from the day they arrive in the US as permanent residents. It’s important to note that visiting the US from their home country does not count towards the required residency time. However, if immigrant parents with green cards occasionally leave the US, their main residency is still considered the US, and their residency time is unaffected.
Once the residency requirement is met, immigrant parents can enroll in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). If they have both Part A and Part B, they may also enroll in Part D (prescription drug coverage).
Medicare Costs and Supplemental Plans
While premium-free Part A Medicare coverage is available to those who have accumulated 40 work credits or have worked in the US for at least 40 quarters, other aspects of Medicare, such as Part B premiums and the 20 percent coinsurance for services, still require payment. Immigrant parents can opt for a private supplement plan to reduce these costs.
If immigrant parents have not lived and worked in the US for an extended period, they will likely have to pay more for their Medicare coverage. Most US citizens receive premium-free Medicare Part A because they have paid Medicare taxes during their employment for at least 10 years. Without a work history and tax contributions, Medicare coverage comes with a premium.
In 2023, the Medicare Part A premium can cost up to $506 per month, while the standard Medicare Part B premium is $164.90 per month. Medicare Part D premiums may vary based on the selected Medicare plan. It is crucial to be aware of these costs when considering Medicare coverage.
Medicare Enrollment Process
The enrollment process for Medicare is the same for everyone. Immigrant parents need to enroll during their initial enrollment period, which begins three months before their 65th birthday and ends three months after. Failing to enroll during this period can lead to penalties and delayed coverage.
To apply for Medicare, visit Medicare.gov to view your enrollment options.
Temporary Health Coverage Options for Non-Eligible Parents
If immigrant parents are not green card holders or do not yet qualify for Medicare and are visiting the United States, it is advisable to purchase temporary health coverage. Temporary insurance plans for green card holders or basic visitors/travel insurance can provide protection against unexpected medical costs during their stay in the country.
Medicare eligibility for immigrant parents in the United States depends on factors such as their residency status, work history, and age. Green card holders who meet the necessary criteria can enroll in Medicare after fulfilling the residency requirement, while non-green card holders may need temporary health coverage until they qualify. Understanding the requirements and options available is crucial to ensure that immigrant parents receive appropriate healthcare coverage and protection during their time in the United States.