Health Insurance for Green Card Holders in the United States

Navigating Health Insurance For Green Card Holders


New immigrants navigate many changes when they come to the United States, and health insurance coverage can be intimidating. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides access to health insurance for non-US citizens who are lawfully present in the United States. “Lawfully present” refers to individuals who have entered the country for many reasons, including visitors on valid, non-immigrant visas, and lawful permanent residents—also known as green card holders.1


Green card holders are non-US citizens who have been granted the legal right to permanently reside and work in the country. They enjoy many of the same rights and responsibilities as US citizens and can access essential resources like health insurance.2


Health insurance for green card holders is an important component  of their overall well-being as these individuals establish their lives in their new home. Newly arrived immigrants should consider finding and enrolling in health insurance in the USA for several reasons.

  • Financial support for healthcare. Even routine healthcare and non-emergency treatment can be costly. Health insurance can help to reduce a member’s financial responsibility by lowering the monthly plan premium and limiting the out-of-pocket costs for services.
  • Preventive care and early intervention. Health insurance coverage provides access to no-cost preventive care, including routine check-ups and screenings.
  • Emergency care. Unforeseen accidents or illnesses can lead to substantial medical bills. Health insurance ensures members can receive emergency care while limiting the overwhelming out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Pharmacy coverage. Under the ACA, health insurance plans provide coverage for many medications, including certain generic and brand-name prescription drugs.

How Do Lawfully Present Immigrants Enroll In Health Insurance?


Lawfully present immigrants may either enroll in coverage sponsored by their employer or explore other individual and family coverage options. Like US citizens, the cost of health insurance for non-US citizens can vary depending on the level of coverage they select, so it’s important to consider potential future care needs and personal budget when choosing a health plan.


Those seeking private green card health insurance can enroll in a plan directly with a health insurer or through the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the Marketplace. The Marketplace was established by the ACA to help individuals and families access affordable health insurance.


The Marketplace helps you compare plans based on insurer, price, benefits, and networks, to make the best coverage decision for you and your family. While the federal government operates the Marketplace in most states, some states run their own marketplaces.


Generally, individuals and families must purchase coverage through the Marketplace during the annual Open Enrollment Period that typically runs from November 1 through January 15. However, individuals and families can enroll in a Marketplace health plan outside the Open Enrollment timeframe if they have a qualifying life event. Becoming a lawful permanent resident is one such event and qualifies the individual for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). 


Upon receiving a green card, individuals should enroll in health insurance, whether through their employer or the Marketplace, within their 60-day SEP window.  


The Marketplace offers access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance in the USA for foreigners who have immigrated. Ensure you are covered by prioritizing your health and obtaining the right insurance coverage for you and your family.



Medicaid Health Insurance For Non-US Citizens


Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are state-run programs that provide health insurance coverage at little to no cost for individuals and families with limited income and resources. Lawfully present immigrants, including green card holders, may qualify for Medicaid based on their income, household size, and other factors. The eligibility criteria vary by state, so it's important for green card holders to check their specific state's Medicaid guidelines.


Lawfully present immigrants must typically wait five years after receiving “qualified immigration status” before becoming eligible for Medicaid. However, many still qualify for Marketplace coverage within the five-year waiting period and may also be eligible for health insurance subsidies.



Health Insurance Subsidies For Green Card Holders


Green card holders who are not eligible for Medicaid may still qualify for income-based health insurance subsidies that help individuals and families with lower incomes save on healthcare costs.


There are two types of health insurance subsidies available under the ACA.

  • Advanced Premium Tax Credits. Based on income and household size, these credits can lower monthly premium costs.
  • Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs). These are extra savings that lower the amount you pay for deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, as well as out-of-pocket maximums. If you qualify for CSRs, you must enroll in a Silver metal level health plan to receive the extra savings.


Green card holders may be eligible for both types of ACA subsidies. Learn more about how to qualify and apply for health insurance subsidies through the Health Insurance Marketplace.



Health Insurance For Green Card Holders: FAQs


Can green card holders get insurance coverage through the Marketplace?

Yes, green card holders are eligible to purchase health insurance in the United States. The ACA has significantly expanded access to health coverage for many individuals, including green card holders.


Can you get health insurance while waiting for a green card?

Yes, lawfully present immigrants are eligible for coverage through the Marketplace before receiving their green card if they have a qualified non-citizen or humanitarian immigration status or a valid non-immigrant visa. Or they may consider enrolling in health coverage through an employer-sponsored plan.


How can green card holders find and enroll in health insurance coverage?

Green card holders can either purchase coverage directly from a health insurer or explore health insurance options available through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Employers often offer health insurance coverage to their employees as well, so green card holders may want to consider the plans available through their job.


Do green card holders qualify for Medicaid?

Yes, green card holders and other qualified non-US citizens may be eligible for Medicaid after a five-year waiting period.

Getting Started In The United States With Health Insurance Coverage

Navigating the complexities of health insurance as a new green card holder is a crucial step getting established in the United States. Anthem is here to assist new immigrants find coverage that aligns with their unique care needs circumstances. 

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