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Medicare for Green Card Holders (Medicare for Immigrants)

Summary: While Medicare for green card holders is available, you may still have expenses when using your benefits. There are also differences in your costs depending on when you become eligible. Furthermore, immigrants will need to understand how their legal status affects eligibility. Learn more below. Estimated Read Time: 10 mins

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Medicare for green card holders is available and can be an essential method for many seniors throughout the United States in managing the cost of their healthcare. It’s important to realize that Medicare for immigrants can be complex. Still, by understanding the guidelines laid out by the federal government, you can find coverage that meets your needs in many cases.

While Original Medicare is comprised of Medicare Part A and Part B benefits, there are still healthcare costs that can remain. However, there are options available that can help you cover these expenses, further lowering the cost of your healthcare.

Health insurance for green card holders over 65 is vital as healthcare becomes more and more of a focal point as you age. Below, we explore Medicare for immigrants over 65, when you can apply, how to keep your costs low, and the options available.

Are Green Card Holders Eligible for Medicare?

Medicare is available for green card holders. Green card holders who meet the eligibility guidelines for immigrants to receive Original Medicare benefits will become eligible, even if they don’t have enough work credits. These are the Medicare requirements for green card holders:

  • If you have worked at a job for at least 40 quarters, or ten years, paying Medicare taxes, or have had a spouse qualify for Medicare through this manner and are at least 65 years old, you can enroll in Medicare as a green card holder.
  • Additionally, Medicare for immigrants is available for those at least 65 years of age who do not have a work history paying Medicare taxes if they have been legally within the United States for five straight years. In this scenario, you can purchase Medicare Part A but must pay its premium.
  • Health insurance for non-U.S. citizens over 65 and Medicare benefits for those under 65 should they have a disability and meet the same eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

In general, Medicare for immigrants is available. Yet, your costs can vary as Part A costs are based on how long you’ve worked in the United States and paid taxes towards the program.

But it’s important to note that Original Medicare comprises two parts:

  • Medicare Part A focuses on the healthcare you receive through an inpatient setting at a hospital.
  • Medicare Part B covers your healthcare costs in an outpatient setting, such as visiting your doctor’s office.

While Medicare Part B benefits are available for immigrants that qualify for Medicare Part A, the amount you’ll pay depends on how much you make each year. Permanent resident green card holders with higher incomes may pay an up charged premium for Medicare Part B (IRMAA). Also, immigrant eligibility for Medicare can affect your premiums; if you delay enrollment, penalties could raise the cost of your coverage if you enroll later.

Medicare for Undocumented Immigrants

You may be wondering, “Are illegal immigrants eligible for Medicare?” The simple answer is no. You must have a green card to meet the Medicare eligibility for immigrants listed above. This means that while Medicare for green card holders over 65 years of age is available, if you are without the proper paperwork, you’ll need to find an alternative form of health insurance.

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Both Medicare and Medicaid programs are not available for undocumented immigrants under normal circumstances. Furthermore, while private insurance is available, undocumented immigrants cannot purchase healthcare from the Health Insurance Marketplace (ACA Marketplace). Medicaid benefits may be available to illegal aliens during an emergency, but even then, various restrictions apply.

Medicare for New Green Card Holders

Medicare eligibility for new immigrants follows the same criteria as it does for anyone. Therefore, you can’t qualify for Medicare benefits when you are a new green card holder until you meet the requirements to receive such benefits.

It’s also worth noting that green card holders will need ten years of work credits or to be married to a spouse with enough credits to qualify for Social Security benefits.

If you aren’t looking to wait that long, remember that Medicare for green card holders does exist if you continuously remain in the United States for five years. However, in this case, you will be responsible for covering your Medicare Part A premium.

Medicare for Green Card Holders Parents

Health insurance for immigrant parents over 65 is an important consideration. Thankfully, Medicare is available to those that qualify. Should they be eligible, Medicare for green card holders’ parents can be provided if your parents have been permanent residents for at least five years.

While Medicare may be available for your parents, they must be eligible on their own terms. However, if one parent submits enough work hours for premium-free Medicare Part A benefits, the other parent can claim coverage using those hours.

Medicare for Green Card Holders in California

California sees the most significant influx of immigrants each year, and a core concern among green card holders in the Golden State is how to receive Medicare benefits. Because the federal government is in charge of the Medicare program, you can be sure that your benefits and qualifying for these benefits are the same regardless of state lines.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t some differences between states regarding how your Medicare benefits operate depending on which state you are in. But you’ll have the same benefits for each state and qualify for coverage according to the above guidelines. The same applies to other states, including Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, etc.

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Medicare for Foreign Spouses

Medicare entitlement for foreign spouses is available, but you’ll need to qualify for coverage through Medicare benefits via 40 Social Security credits or ten years of work credits. If you do not meet this requirement, your foreign spouse will need to become an American citizen or legally live within the United States for a minimum of five years.

By doing so, similar Medicare benefits guidelines apply. You’ll still need to cover your Medicare Part A premium, and your eligibility is based on the amount of work your spouse has completed to meet the program’s requirements. This includes your healthcare if you divorce or your spouse dies. However, if you remarry, things can change.

Should you remarry after the age of 60 years old or 50 years old for those with disabilities, you can keep your eligibility for Medicare benefits based on your spouse. Still, if you have a new spouse, they cannot claim benefits based on your former spouse’s work history. This goes for both immigrants and American citizens.

Overall, foreign spouses receiving Medicare benefits can be tricky to navigate. Suppose you get remarried after divorcing someone that provided benefits for your healthcare. In that case, your new spouse will need to be eligible for you to continue receiving coverage unless you are a foreign spouse that hasn’t had an occupation in the U.S.

Green card holders can get Social Security benefits outside the United States. But, if you’re out of the U.S. for too long, there can be consequences. With so many different scenarios and guidelines, it’s recommended that you work closely with a licensed Medicare agent to help ensure that you enroll in benefits that you are eligible for and avoid missing out on coverage.

Can a Retired Immigrant Apply for Medicare?

Medicare for retired senior green card holders is available for those who qualify. Retirement is often tangled with Medicare eligibility as both often happen around the stages of life. But the truth is, they are unrelated. Your age for social security benefits and personal retirement does not affect your ability to apply for Medicare.

For example, suppose you are a green card holder applying for Medicare and decide to retire at 63. In that case, you will still be unable to apply for your benefits until you hit age 65, with disability being an exception, of course. Green card holders eligible for Medicare can enroll after retirement, but only when meeting the requirements.

Does Medicare Affect Citizenship?

Receiving Medicare won’t affect your chance at citizenship, as you’ll need to qualify for the federal government’s program in the first place. This includes Medicare Supplement, or Medicare Advantage benefits as well.

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Buying Medicare for green card holders can be a complex issue, and one of the issues to navigate is the use of such benefits and how it can affect citizenship application. Known as a public charge, immigrants who receive benefits they are not entitled to can struggle to achieve citizenship.

But Medicare for elderly green card holders comes with the previously mentioned rules and stipulations. These guidelines provide a viable path for immigrants to earn benefits and have it not affect their immigration status or pathway to becoming U.S. citizens.

Furthermore, suppose you are lawfully in the United States and qualify for coverage through Medicare for elderly immigrants in many cases. In that case, you aren’t eligible for other public charges, such as Medicaid.

Working with a licensed Medicare insurance agent, you can enroll in the coverage you are entitled to while shopping for other coverages, such as Medigap or Medicare Advantage plans, to keep your healthcare costs low.

Do Illegal Immigrants Get Medicare and Insurance for Free?

Illegal immigrants don’t receive Medicare for free, and it’s highly doubtful private insurance companies are providing their products and services pro bono. Unfortunately for illegal immigrants, Medicare benefits are generally unavailable due to their legal status.

Do Illegal Immigrants Get Medicare and Supplement for Free?

Medicare Supplement, also known as Medigap, is a supplemental coverage that can help you cover the cost of your healthcare that remain when using Medicare Part A and Part B. Because illegal immigrants cannot get Medicare benefits, they are not eligible, and there is no reason, for them to enroll in Medigap benefits. The same is true of Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Advantage Eligibility, Immigrants, and Green Card Holders

Medicare for green card holders over 65 is a valuable benefit, but different expenses may not be covered using Original Medicare alone. Furthermore, some healthcare costs are not a part of Original Medicare coverage. Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan is one of the options available to green card holders that can help keep healthcare costs low.

A Medicare Advantage plan doesn’t replace Original Medicare but will provide you with the same benefits found in Medicare Parts A and B, along with additional benefits not covered by this coverage. However, it’s important to note that Medicare benefits for green card holders through Advantage plans are restricted to networks.

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This means that if you need to receive healthcare outside of your network, you will either not be able to use your benefits or pay a higher rate as a result. But Medigap plans will supplement your Original Medicare benefits and do not have network restrictions to worry about.

Having Medicare Supplement coverage is often a great way to keep your healthcare costs down, but Medicare Advantage plans may be a great alternative. You can only have one or the other, and determining the right option for you means assessing your healthcare and budget needs and finding the right coverage for you.

This is how we can help. Our team of expert licensed Medicare agents can help you find the right coverage for your needs and keep your costs low. Medicare for green card holders is available, and we can help.

How to Apply for Medicare for Green Card Holders

Applying to Medicare for immigrants over 65 works as it does for everyone. You do so through Social Security. But while the process is the same for citizens as permanent residents, ensuring that you have the right level of benefits for your needs is best done with a licensed Medicare agent.

This is because once you have Original Medicare, you can enroll in Medigap or Medicare Advantage plans as well. Additionally, to cover the cost of prescription drugs, Medicare Part D plans are available. Signing up for these benefits as soon as you are eligible can help you avoid unnecessary penalties and keep your healthcare costs low.

Medicare for immigrants is available, so long as you are legal and meet the right requirements before enrolling. Your best course of action is to assess your healthcare needs and review the benefits available to you as a Medicare beneficiary. We can help.

Medicare for green card holders is available. Call us at the number above or complete an online rate form to get your rates now.


MedicareFAQ is dedicated to providing you with authentic and trustworthy Medicare information. We have strict sourcing guidelines and work diligently to serve our readers with accurate and up-to-date content.

  1. Medicare Open Enrollment FAQs, KFF. Accessed April 2023.
  2. Public Charge Resources, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Accessed April 2023.
Kayla Hopkins

Kayla Hopkins

Content Editor
Kayla Hopkins is an accomplished writer and Medicare educator serving as the Editor of MedicareFAQ.com. Upon completing her Communications degree from Ohio University, Kayla dedicated her time to understanding the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. With her extensive background as a Licensed Insurance Agent, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing.
Ashlee Zareczny

Ashlee Zareczny

Compliance Manager
Ashlee Zareczny is the Compliance Manager for MedicareFAQ. As a licensed Medicare agent in all 50 states, she is dedicated to educating those eligible for Medicare by providing the necessary resources and tools. Additionally, Ashlee trains new and tenured Medicare agents on CMS compliance guidelines. Ashlee is a Medicare expert who specializes in Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D education.

23 thoughts on "Medicare for Green Card Holders (Medicare for Immigrants)"

  1. Hi,I am 76 years old ,green card holder and more than 5 years here.Never worked in US
    How can I get health insurance?

    1. If you are interested in enrolling in Medicare, you’ll need to contact your local Social Security administration.

  2. My mother will be 97 in April, is a green card holder since 2013. neither she nor her husband worked here. Is she eligible to get medicare by paying for it? will appreciate any help. Thank you.

    1. Brindha, as long as your mother has been a legal resident of the United States for at least 5 years, she is eligible to enroll in Medicare. If she has not worked at least 40 quarters (10 years) paying Medicare taxes, she will be required to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A. I recommend contacting your local social security office for more information.

  3. My uncle will turn 65 in this coming February 2022. However, his Green Card residency will be 5 years in May 2023. (He plans to apply for US Citizen as well.) Will there be any penalty if he applies for the Medicare in May 2023 where he fulfills his 5-years residency status or he should apply for Medicare when he is 65 in this coming February 2022?

    If he applies for Medicare next year, 2023, he will be 66 + years old.

    Please advise. Thank you.

    1. Ike, thank you for reaching out! Your uncle will not be able to apply for Medicare at this time because he is not eligible. There will not be a Part B penalty when he applies in 2023, because that is when he is projected to meet his eligibility requirements. However, you may want to research his qualifications for premium-free Part A. He may be required to pay a premium once enrolled.

  4. My mom is 76. She has been holding greencard from last 10 years. She has never worked in USA. She has been in and out of country some times more than 6 month but never less than 1 year. Currently she has medi-aid but I am wondering if she qualifies for medi-care. Five year rule applies to how long you have been holding green card or 5 years of constantly living in USA without any break.

    1. We appreciate you reaching out! The 5-year rule applies to those who have been continuously residing in the United States. If she has only left for travel, not relocation she could be eligible. It would be best to contact her local Social Security office for the most accurate information regarding her circumstances.

  5. Hello,
    I am greencard holder, widowed, My green card was sponsored by my son, I have never worked in USA , Am I eligible for Medicare?

    1. Subha, as a green card holder you are eligible for Medicare once you have established residency for at least five years. Since never working in the US, you would not be eligible for premium-free Part A and would have to pay the full premium for Part A and Part B.

  6. Hi, my mother has spent over 20 years living in the US as a stay at home mom married to my dad who served in the military. They have divorced 6 years ago and she has moved back to her home country. I plan to apply for a green card for her to come back to the states and help me with my kids. Does the 5 year residency as a green card holder start over for her or does her past years living in the US as a permanent green card holder resident count? Is the requirement for her to have 40 quarters of work also still apply now that she is divorced or will they still consider her ex spouse time working? Thank you!

    1. Hi Skyler – the five-year residency requirement will start over when she gets her new green card. Even though she and your father have divorced, there is a good chance his working quarters will count toward her premium-free Part A.

  7. Hi i am 76 years old and i had a green card for 10 years but left the country for over a year thus requiring me to get a new green card all over again. Am i eligible for any government programs or do i need to wait another 5 years?

    1. Hi Durdu – our advice is to contact where you applied for the green card to see if you qualify to bypass the waiting period that would likely come with a new green card.

  8. Hi,
    I have a question on the 5 year residency. I am 66 years old and my green card was issued in June 2017. Does it mean that I become eligible for Medicare after June 2022? or does it start in January 2022? When you say 5 years, do you mean that I apply after June 2022 or January 2022? Is this the time considered as “first eligible”?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Anna – as you are already 65+, you will be eligible/able to apply for Medicare once you have had your green card for five years. So, your eligibility will start in June 2022, on your green card anniversary.

  9. I have my green card since 0916/2016 meaning that I fulfill with the 5 years requirement of residency. I am 71 years old. As I was not entitled to get Medicare until now, during these last years I was covered through ACA (Obamacare) which worked for me very well so far. As I never worked in the US I know I have to paid Part A. Which would be my monthly premium for Basic Medicare and Medicare Advantage? My question is due to the fact that I need to decide if in 2022 I will continue with ACA or if I switch to Medicare. Your comments will be appreciated.

    1. Hi Betty! Your premium for Part A will depend on how many quarters you paid into Medicare. Part A is your hospital coverage. In order to be eligible for Medicare Advantage, you have to enroll in Part B, which is your doctor coverage. The premium for Medicare Advantage depends on what plan you enroll in since the carrier determines the premium. Under most circumstances, once you’re eligible for Part A, you are no longer eligible for any subsidies through the Marketplace. However, since you may not have paid enough quarters into Medicare to get Part A premium-free, you may be able to keep any subsidies and continue with Obamacare. Once you’ve paid into Medicare for 10 years, then you will need to enroll or you will end up paying the full price through the Marketplace.

      1. What do you mean paid into Medicare for 10 years? My mother is in a similar situation and would like to continue with Obamacare and do not want Medicare. Is that allowed. She has never worked here in US, still unemployed and is over 65 with 5 years of green card residency now. Kindly advise

  10. A LPR that is 75 years old, currently working, not yet accrued 40 credits, currently has insurance through obamacare-
    Is the person going to be hit with a penalty when he eventually enrolls in medicare?

    Thanks for your time.

  11. Article mentions 5 year rule for Medicare coverage for LPR. Have read other articles that say that if a LPR is married for over 1 year to a US citizen who is receiving SS benefits and is enrolled in Medicare then the 5 year requirement does not apply. Any info on this will be appreciated.

    1. If you’re married to a US citizen, you’re eligible for Medicare as long as you’re 65 years old or have been collecting SSDI for at least 24 months. It does not matter if your spouse is collecting SS or has Medicare. As long as your spouse paid into Medicare for 10 years, you also qualify for Part A premium free. I have not heard of having to wait one year after marriage, I would contact Medicare directly to confirm this.


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