Can recent immigrants to the United States get health coverage if they are over 65?

Can recent immigrants to the United States get health coverage if they are over 65?

Yes, recent immigrants to the United States can get health insurance if they are over 65. The options available are detailed below.


Immigrants who are age 65 or older and have been permanent residents in the U.S. for five years or longer are eligible for Medicare.

The same premium rules apply to permanent residents as to U.S citizens. That is, an individual is exempt from paying for a Part A premium if he/she (or spouse) has worked ten years or more in a job that contributes payroll taxes.

If an immigrant qualifies as a Medicare enrollee but not for Part A premium exemption, a premium can be purchased for approximately$422 per month (2018). Everyone, including permanent residents, must pay for the Part B premium. The approximate cost of premiums for both Part A and Part B is $556 per month.


Like Medicare, Medicaid requires a minimum of five years of U.S. permanent residency in order to receive benefits. However, some states are now allowed to offer federal Medicaid funds to immigrants who do not meet the residency requirement. Though unlikely in most cases, some low-income seniors who have not been permanent U.S. residents for five years may be eligible for Medicaid funding depending on the state in which they reside.

Insurance from the Private Market

Because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors can purchase private health insurance if they are not receiving Medicare benefits. In addition, pre-existing conditions cannot be used to determine eligibility of premium cost. Age will be a factor in the cost of the premium. However, the law states that older recipients cannot be charged more than three times the rate as younger recipients.

Premium Subsidies

The following help is provided for seniors, including those who have not been permanent residents for five years.

  • Subsidies are provided to lower the premium for those whose income is below 400% of the poverty level.
  • Cost-sharing for silver plans are provided for those whose income is below 250% of the poverty level.

Employer-Sponsored Coverage

Of course, health insurance can be provided through an employer. Some families who own small businesses hire their relatives in order to be able to provide health benefits to them.

Inbound Immigrant Policies

Limited-time health insurance policies are offered to recent immigrants, including seniors. Things to know about these policies:

  • They often provide emergency benefits only.
  • Maximum benefits are usually capped between $50,000 and $100,000.
  • Limits are placed on things like hospital stays.
  • Pre-existing conditions are considered for eligibility and premium.
  • There is a long list of services and supplies not covered.

Individual Mandate Penalty

Under the Affordable Care Act, anyone (senior or otherwise) who does not pay for "minimum essential coverage," is charged a penalty. Travel insurance, limited benefit plans and short-term insurance plans are not considered "minimum essential coverage." Therefore, individuals who use these plans would be charged a penalty. This individual mandate penalty is scheduled to be eliminated in 2019.

Five Years of Permanent Residency

If a senior is unable to receive Medicare benefits at age 65, but passes five years of U.S. permanent residency, he or she is then eligible for Medicare. Alternatively, the senior may continue using a policy from the private market. Any premium subsidies will continue to apply if resident remains eligible for them.

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Can recent immigrants to the United States get health coverage if they are over 65?