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  • Writer's pictureAhsan Malyk

Can A Non-US Citizen Buy Health Insurance?

If you are considering moving to the United States, it is important that you know about the country's healthcare system. In addition, you must have an understanding of the health insurance options available to foreign nationals living in the US.

You can be a new immigrant, a temporary worker, or an overseas student who has recently arrived in the US. Understanding the healthcare system in the United States may be scary and stressful for newcomers to the country.

The majority of other industrialized nations, including the United States, have some kind of universal health care coverage. However, the United States does not.

Instead, the health care system in the United States is made up of a combination. It includes employer-sponsored health insurance, government programs, and payments made directly by customers out of their own pockets.

Medical Expenses Coverage

Coverage for medical expenses is available to all residents of the United States. They are accessible via a number of different public, private, and government-funded healthcare systems.

Medicare is designed for seniors with poor or fixed incomes. However, Medicaid is for the disabled and low-income people. These are the primary components of these programs.

Other programs include the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance to children. And TRICARE, which provides health insurance to military people and their families.

How does the healthcare system in the United States function for those who are not citizens?

The following is a list of the several forms of health insurance. They are accessible to non-US citizens and permanent residents.

Private Health Insurance

Private health insurance is by far the most common kind of health coverage for individuals and families in the US.

In addition, the group market, primarily consisting of employer-sponsored insurance, and the nongroup market of the individual market, are both components of the private health insurance business.

Both of these markets include plans that can you can purchase directly from an insurer. Persons who are above the age of 65, and some people under the age of 65 who have disabilities. Moreover, people who have the end-stage renal disease are eligible to get health insurance coverage via Medicare.

Since 1965, when it was enacted as a part of the Social Security Act and given the presidential seal of approval by Lyndon B. Johnson, the program has been running successfully.

Patients' ages, the presence or absence of a handicap, and their connections to other government assistance programs, such as Social Security, are taken into consideration when determining their eligibility for health insurance coverage under Medicare.

In 2019, Medicare had individuals with health insurance coverage for a total of 58 million people.

Are those who are not citizens of the United States or foreign nationals eligible for Medicare?

Depending on the specifics of your situation, it is possible for you to sign up for Medicare. This is true even if you are not a citizen of the US but are present legally in the country. To be more specific, you may still be eligible for Medicare if you meet the following requirements:

You are eligible to receive or are already receiving Social Security retirement benefits, Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB), or Social Security Disability Insurance. You are a railroad employee who has retired and receives Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB).


Medicaid is a government-funded health insurance program that assists low-income families with children, pregnant women, persons with disabilities, and senior citizens in obtaining coverage for their medical expenses.

It receives funding from both the state and the federal governments. Medicaid was established in 1965 as a part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society reforms in order to offer Americans who were unable to pay healthcare expenses on their own access to a wider range of comprehensive healthcare coverage.

Initially, only welfare recipients and their dependents were eligible for coverage under the program. However, after some time, the program extended to include additional populations, such as pregnant women and those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

There are now a variety of Medicaid coverage options available, including the following:

Regular (pay for service)

Regular health insurance covers services that are medically necessary. These services include visits to the doctor, stays in the hospital, prescription medications, eye tests or glasses, and dental treatment.

Beneficiaries are responsible for a portion of the total cost. The amount they pay is proportional to their income, with those with lower incomes contributing a smaller portion.


Children's Health Insurance Program is a means-tested program that provides health insurance to qualified low-income children and pregnant women in households who do not have any other coverage. This program is under the umbrella of Children's Medicaid.

Children in homes whose yearly income is higher than the Medicaid qualifying criteria but whose parents do not have health insurance are eligible for this sort of insurance coverage.

Medicare Savings Programs

This category provides financial assistance to those with low incomes so that they can pay for Medicare Parts A and B.

Medicaid Buy-In

This kind is available for working individuals whose income is too high to qualify for subsidies. These are the health insurance exchanges that were created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Long-term medical care Medicaid

These programs also pay a part of the cost for those who need long-term care and are eligible for this service. This covers assisted living facilities as well as various forms of prolonged and continuous medical care.

People may achieve the conditions for eligibility in one of two ways: either they generate an income but have very little money saved up, or they spend down their limited assets until they meet the standards for eligibility.

Individuals who wish to apply for Medicaid must submit their paperwork to the social services department of their state. In 2019, Medicaid was responsible for providing medical coverage to 64 million persons (19.8 percent of the US population).

Medicaid for Foreign Nationals and Non-Citizens of the United States

"Qualified non-citizens," sometimes known as immigrants, may be eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provided they meet the residence and income requirements of their respective states.

After an individual has "qualified" immigration status, there is often a waiting time of five years. After that, he is eligible for Medicaid and CHIP coverage. However, the five-year waiting period does not apply to some people who have refugee status.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of the United States, eligible non-citizens include the following:

● Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR/Green Card Holder)

● Asylees Refugees Cuban/Haitian arrivals

● Granted conditional entry into the United States for at least one year

● Victims of domestic violence who are not citizens, their husbands, children, or parents

● Victims of trafficking and their spouses, children, siblings, or parents, as well as anyone who have an application for a victim of trafficking visa that is currently pending, are eligible for this program

● Withholding of deportation

Take Away

The healthcare business in the United States is a hybrid of the public sector and the private sector, with the federal government playing a key role in the provision of safety nets for those who are unable to afford to pay for their health insurance coverage or medical bills.

Understanding the healthcare system in the United States is very necessary if you want to relocate to the country.

Because the healthcare system in the United States is undergoing constant change, it is essential for non-citizens to be aware of how they may acquire health insurance and how they will pay for any potential medical costs in the event that they need.

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