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Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
Health & Fitness

Can older, legal immigrants shop on the Healthcare Marketplace?

Published:   |   Updated: August 23, 2013 at 02:44 PM

Q: I understand the Healthcare Marketplace insurance is not available to Americans over 65 as they are eligible for Medicare. But I am 72, a legal U.S. resident for seven years, and I have not yet met the work requirements to qualify for Medicare.

Now, my out-of-pocket for health insurance is approximately 50 percent of annual income. Is there any provision for assistance in these circumstances? - Eunice from Lithia

A: Older immigrants in this country have long faced the quandary of not being able to easily afford health insurance.

About 5 percent of the 1.1 million of the nation’s new lawful permanent residents every year are 65 and older, according to the Migration Policy Institute. And you and many of these green card holders don’t qualify for Medicare, the primary government-backed health insurance program for seniors.

The Affordable Care Act will change that, as you and other legal U.S. residents will be able to shop for insurance on the marketplace, also known as the exchange. The online exchange is available to you because Medicare is not an option, said Karen Pollitz, a policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The premiums should be far less expensive than you face now, and you might be eligible for some subsidies based on income. It’s not clear how your immigration status affects that part of the plan.

The good news is you will have more options. But it also could be complicated. I encourage you to do a lot of homework regarding your options before making a final decision.

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