One of the more pressing concerns that individuals who file for their parents' permanent residence have is whether their aging parents will qualify for medical assistance from the government. As we all know, the cost of health care in this country is astronomical, and only rising. One thing that newly arrived elderly immigrants and their families should be aware of is their potential eligibility for Medicare.
Medicare is a federally funded program that provides hospital and medical care coverage to individuals 65 years and older who have worked long enough in the US (usually forty quarters or ten years) and made their contributions to the Social Security fund. (Those who are under the age of 65 as well as those who are disabled or suffering from permanent kidney failure may also qualify under certain conditions.) What new immigrants must understand is that applicants must be United States Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. However, all criteria must be met in order to qualify for free Part A Medicare. The reality is that many newer immigrants will, in fact, have to purchase Medicare coverage. For example, someone who has recently naturalized as a United States Citizen but who has not worked long enough, usually ten years, does not qualify for free Medicare. Such an individual may have to purchase Part A Medicare under the premium "buy in" program. However, in order for an immigrant to even qualify to buy into Medicare, he or she must be a lawful permanent resident, 65 years of age or older, who has lived continuously in the United States for at least five years. Therefore, if an individual has not been a permanent resident for at least five years, as will be the case for newly arrived immigrants, he/she will not be eligible for free or buy- in Medicare.
With the passage of "Obamacare" or the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"), there may be some alternatives or options for such individuals. Those who are potentially affected should refer to the government website for more information.
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