Immigrating to a new country is stressful. One of the most stressful parts can be figuring out the healthcare system—from finding insurance to finding the right doctors. 

Whether you’re searching for Medicare insurance coverage for a parent, family member, or yourself, we’ll make it as easy as possible for you to understand how Medicare coverage for green card holders works. 

When it comes to Medicare, the biggest question on your mind is whether or not a US permanent resident can enroll in the health insurance program. There are a few factors that go into answering this question, like how long a person has been in the United States and how long they’ve been working and paying taxes. Read on to learn more about how a permanent resident can qualify for Medicare coverage.

Key takeaways:

  • Green card holders are eligible to enroll in Medicare if they’ve been living in the US for 5 years or more.

  • If you’ve been working for less than 10 years in the US, you may have to pay more for Medicare Part A.

  • You are not eligible for Medicare if you are a newly arrived permanent resident who’s lived in the US for less than 5 years.

What is a permanent resident or green card holder?

A permanent resident, or green card holder, is someone who can live and work in the United States for an indefinite period of time, but doesn’t have citizenship. You can become a permanent resident by getting sponsored by a family member or employer, via refugee status, or through individual filing. Permanent residents can work in the U.S. for most employers and have access to other benefits like education and healthcare.

Fun fact: while today’s permanent resident cards are closer to yellow, they used to be green and have maintained the nickname “green cards.”

Are green card holders eligible for Medicare?

If a permanent resident has been in the United States for at least five years, they may be eligible to enroll in Medicare. There are a few caveats, however. Green card holders (or spouses of green card holders) who apply for Medicare must meet certain work, taxation, and residency duration requirements to receive full Medicare benefits. 

Medicare eligibility for permanent residents 

You can enroll in Medicare after five years of permanent residency in the United States. As a permanent legal resident, like US citizens,  you or your spouse must have worked in the United States and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years to get premium-free Part A.  You can also purchase Medicare Part B after five years of permanent residency. The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B is $174.70.

Green card holders who have worked fewer years face higher costs for Medicare, depending on how many years you’ve been working and paying taxes. If you’ve been working 7-9 years, you’ll pay $278 per month for Part A. If you've been working less than 7.5 years, you’ll owe $505 per month.

One last thing to consider for green card holders looking to enroll in Medicare: permanent residents under 65 with disabilities can also qualify for Medicare. In order to do so, they must meet the same eligibility criteria for those enrolled in Security Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Medicare costs and premiums for green card holders

All citizens and permanent residents in the United States have to pay premiums and out-of-pocket costs associated with Medicare. The only difference is that anyone who worked and paid Medicare taxes for less than 10 years has to pay more for Part A coverage. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect to pay for Medicare:

  • Part A premium if worked for 10 or more years: $0 

  • Part A premium if worked for 7-9 years: $278 per month

  • Part A premium if worked for less than 7.5 or more years: $505 per month

  • Part B premium: $174.70 per month

  • Medigap premiums: $150-200 per month

  • Part D (prescription drug) plans: $32.74 per month

Medicare challenges for new green card holders 

Unfortunately, new green card holders who have resided in the US for less than 5 years are not eligible for Medicare, regardless of age. Until a permanent resident qualifies for Medicare, purchasing basic visitor or travel insurance may be the best option for healthcare coverage.  

Enrolling in Medicare as a permanent resident 

The process for enrolling in Medicare is no different for a green card holder. You’ll want to sign up for coverage during your Initial Enrollment Period, which is a 7-month window that starts three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after. If you don’t enroll during this period of time, you may have to pay a Medicare late enrollment penalty  Different parts of Medicare handle late enrollment penalties differently, and some are charged monthly for as long as you have Medicare. 

It’s difficult enough to navigate and settle into a new country. Get peace of mind about your healthcare coverage, and let one of our licensed Advisors help you find the best Medicare coverage for your unique health and financial needs. Schedule a free consultation or call us at (855) 900-2427!

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