Are Green Card Holders Eligible for Medical Insurance?

Did you know that green card holders in America have to pay a tax penalty if they don’t have health insurance? This is in accordance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obama Care, which states that any green card holder, living in the US and filing taxes, will be penalized or need to pay a fine along with their medical treatment costs, if they don’t have health insurance for more than 6 days in a year during their stay in the country.

The Affordable Care Act was passed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Under the Obama Care health insurance ordinance, green card holders or LPRs are eligible for coverage under the new US healthcare marketplace and can get government assistance, along with the state and federal medical or Medicare for Green Card programs, at affordable rates.

Government Healthcare Plan

Since 1966, the US federal government has been administering a single-payer, national social insurance program, called Medicare, which uses private insurance companies across the country, under contract for administration. Medicare is meant to provide health insurance for Americans aged 65 years and older, who have worked and paid into the system through payroll tax, as well as younger people with disability status, as determined by the Social Security Administration.

At present, about 30-50 insurance companies are associated with the Medicare program. Payroll tax, premiums and surtaxes from beneficiaries, and general revenue fund this government health insurance.

Medical Insurance Plans for Green Card Holders

Who Can Qualify?

New immigrants or green card holders are not eligible for government Medicare plans due to specific and strict eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria for Medicare are that a US citizen or legal permanent resident can only qualify for Medicare benefits at the age of 65 or older. Moreover, s/he should be a US citizen or a permanent legal resident who has lived in the country for at least five years.

A green card holder who frequently shuttles between their home country and the US would also not be eligible for government healthcare programs.

What are the Options if You Don’t Qualify?

In case the Affordable Care Act requirements does not apply to a green card holder, due to them spending more than 330 days in a year outside the US, the individual may need to insure themselves with a visitor’s plan.

A green card holder who stays permanently in the US, but is not eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act as yet, may need to insure themselves with short term health insurance.

To know more options for the best health insurance plans for green card holders, visit this link.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can green card holders get Medi-Cal?

Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program, financed equally by the state and federal governments, and is meant to provide needed health care services for low-income persons. Green card holders are eligible for Medi-Cal in California if they meet all the eligibility requirements, irrespective of their date of entry into America.

  • Is Medicaid available for green card holders?

To be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, green card holders or LPRs need to satisfy a 5-year waiting period, after they receive the status of a qualified immigrant.

  • Can a green card holder get welfare?

Any immigrant looking to become a lawful permanent resident is not eligible for public benefits in the US. However, green card holders are eligible for cash welfare programs, such as State General Assistance, Supplemental Security Income and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

If you have any questions, do post in comments.

Medical Insurance Plans for Green Card Holders


About the author

Mani Karthik

Hi, Mani Karthik here. Having lived in USA, India & Middle East, and worked for big MNC’s to startups, I have a lot to share with you. My aim is to help people, by sharing everything I’ve learned in life. This blog is read today, by more than 150K people world over! I currently live in LA, California and visit India occasionally. Here’s my full story. Connect with me on FacebookInstagram, Twitter or WhatsApp (+001-408-489-4785). Happy to help! :)

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