When an immigrant obtains permanent residency in the United States and is authorized to live and work in the country, they receive many of the benefits that people born here do. Many get Social Security after retirement and even federally funded financial aid for college. But some are experiencing trouble obtaining certain government-subsidized healthcare benefits, particularly Medicare.
While Medicaid – which is a need-based program – is generally not available to green card holders, depending on their location, immigrants on permanent residency can qualify for Medicare. This program, which is run in collaboration with the federal and state governments, is intended for people age 65 and older, and green card holders can apply for this health care coverage after having worked 10 years, or a total of 40 quarters. Those who reach this age but don’t have enough work history may also be allowed to buy into the program.
Despite this, people who have recently come to the country on a green card are finding that they’re being denied Medicare coverage. This is the effect of the new Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. The law means more affordable and higher quality health care for a majority of Americans, and it works to lower the nation’s uninsured rate by required all people who are not insured by an employer or under another provider to obtain coverage through the Marketplace. Those who do not are subject to a fine.
The addition of the Marketplace provides immigrants with another option for health care coverage, which means Medicare agencies are less likely to approve their applications. However, green card holders who can’t afford to pay the premiums on a plan purchased through the Marketplace can apply for a federal subsidy to help pay for the cost. Since the status of your health care is on the line, it’s especially important to process your green card renewal on time to apply for coverage and avoid penalties.