Can I Get Medicare If I Moved to the U.S. from Abroad?

Lucy Lazarony
November 4, 2020

Medicare is not available to new immigrants. If you are new to the United States, you will have to wait five years before you have the opportunity to buy Medicare Part A coverage. You will also need to be 65 older or order to purchase Medicare coverage. In the meantime, you can purchase private insurance on your own instead.

Private insurance companies now offer health insurance coverage to people who are 65 or older as long as they are not enrolled in Medicare. Recent immigrants are not eligible for Medicare at all and should have no problem getting private health insurance coverage. U.S. citizens and permanent residents can qualify for Medicare Part A if they have worked in the U.S. for at least 10 years and are 65 and older.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the health insurance for people in the U.S. who are 65 and older, including immigrants who’ve lived in the U.S for five or more years. Medicare Part A helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or a limited time at a skilled nursing facility. Medicare Part B helps pay for services from doctors and other health care providers. Medicare Part C is a type of Medicare health plan offered by private companies that contract with Medicare to provide Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B benefits and services in a combined package. Medicare Part C is also known as a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans also offer prescription drugs benefits and additional benefits such as vision, hearing and dental bundled together. Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs. There are also Medicare Supplements to consider. Medicare supplements, also known as Medigap, fill the gaps in Original Medicare, Medicare Part and Part B, and are sold by private companies. A Medigap policy can help you pay for copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Some Medigap policies also cover medical care when you travel outside the U.S.

Paying for Medicare Benefits. There is much to Medicare and it is a great benefit for older Americans. Older immigrants who are new to this country are wise to wait out the five-year period and then pay for their Medicare coverage. As immigrants, they will have to pay for Medicare Part A. And Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D premiums are paid for by everyone. Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage Plan, is an option from private companies offering Part A and Part B benefits that has its own premium. And you’ll need to pay for Medigap coverage if you want that supplemental coverage. So be ready to pay for your Medicare coverage.

Shopping for Private Insurance

While you wait to qualify for Medicare, you can shop around and get coverage from private health care insurance companies. SmartFinancial makes this easy to do. Just input a zip code to get started. Next, answer a few quick questions and you’ll be comparing health insurance rates near you in no time.

SmartFinancial has access to more than 200 insurance companies so you are bound to find the insurance coverage and price that you want.

Get Health Insurance Coverage that Matches Your Needs. The best health insurance plan for you is one that matches your needs. Do you have prescription drugs that you take each day? Do you have a recurring condition that requires the work of a specialist? Have you been diagnosed with any chronic illnesses? Are you feeling healthy for your age and just need a doctor to go to for routine checkups? Match your needs to an affordable health plan and you will be all set. As mentioned earlier, comparison shop until you find the absolute best deal on a private health plan.

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Ways to Lower Health Care Costs. Looking for a way to lower health plan costs? Choose a higher deductible. A deductible is the amount you pay for covered health care services before the insurance company starts to pay. A higher deductible will help to lower your health plan’s premium. Here is another tip. Put the deductible amount in a small emergency fund. This way the money will be there when you need it to make a health insurance claim.

An Affordable Health Plan. Wondering what kind of health plan to sign up for? An HMO is a good, affordable option. HMO stands for health maintenance organization. With HMO plans, you typically have lower monthly premiums. You also can expect to pay less out of your own pocket for your health care. With HMO plans, all of your health care services are coordinated by your primary care physician. Want to see a specialist? With an HMO plan, you must first schedule an appointment with your primary care physician and he or she then provides a referral to an in-network specialist. HMOs don’t offer coverage for care from out-of-network providers. So you’ll want to choose in-network providers and get recommendations from your primary care physician for your medical needs. If you can follow those two steps, see a primary care physician and get referrals to in-network providers, you’ll be getting the most cost-effective health care possible under your HMO plan.

Choose an affordable health plan that works best for you. If your health care needs change over the course of a year, don’t be afraid to change plans. When the five-year waiting period is up, you can sign up to pay for Medicare Part A and choose the other Medicare plans that you would like to join.

Compare Medicare Plans Online Now.

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