Medicare, like most federal programs created to give benefits and opportunities to eligible recipients, is a program for American citizens. One of the requirements to be eligible to receive and enjoy Medicare coverage is to have United States citizenship or to be a permanent resident of the United States. However, there is one circumstance in which you may be able to qualify for Medicare even if you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Medicare for Non-citizens
Medicare has four different parts of health coverage. Most American citizens are automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B of Medicare at the age of 65, and if they have paid Medicare tax, they are entitled to receive Part A coverage for free. As a non-citizen, you are not entitled to receive free coverage from Part A, since one of the requirements is to be a U.S. citizen. You are also not allowed to purchase Part A coverage. However, if you are not eligible to receive Part A (which is the case of a non-citizen individual), you are allowed to purchase Medicare Part B and pay monthly premiums for its coverage.
Requirements to Purchase Part B
Medicare Part B is also known as medical insurance. Part B helps to pay for the basic medical costs you have, such as doctor visits, preventive care and basic medical treatments. If you are a non-citizen, you can purchase Medicare Part B under specific conditions. You are required to be 65 years of age or older. You also are required to prove that you were legally admitted to the United States and that your status is still legal at the moment of applying for Part B. Along with that, you must have lived in the United States for at least five consecutive years.
Buying Part D
Medicare Part D is a part of Medicare coverage that focuses on paying the costs for prescription drugs. Medicare Part D requires payment of monthly premiums to all its members, and prices vary according to coverage and the member's income. To buy Part D, a person needs to have Medicare Part A or Part B. As a non-citizen, you are allowed to buy Medicare Part B if you meet the requirements. If you do so and you also desire to purchase Part D, you may, since having Part B (or Part A) is the only requirement for purchasing Part D.
As a non-citizen, you have to pay monthly premiums for Medicare Part B and Part D. How much you pay in premiums depends upon your level of income. You are required to pay higher premiums for Part B if your income falls into higher levels. As of 2011, if you file your tax return as married jointly, and if your income is higher than $170,000, you have to pay higher premiums for Parts B and D. If you have any other filing status, and if your income is higher than $85,000, you also must pay higher premiums.