Many ethnic people who live in the U.S. may sponsor greencard for their elderly parents or in-laws. Some of those new immigrants really live in the U.S. permanently (most of the time of the year) while others may shuttle back and forth between U.S. and their native country. Health insurance options for people in each of those category are similar in most cases, but they may differ in some cases, as described below.
What kind of health insurance options are available in USA for my greencard holder parents?
If my new immigrant parents are going to live in the U.S. permanently, what insurance plans would be most suitable?
If you are below the age of 65 years, consider enrolling them in a domestic individual health insurance plan.
If you are 65+, consider the following plans:
If you are 65 years of age and above, you must live in the U.S. for 5 years before becoming eligible to BUY Medicare. Therefore, the above plans are especially designed to provide insurance while you are waiting for enrollment into Medicare. They provide you coverage up to 5 years. Bridge Plan can be purchased up to 11 months at a time and then it has be repurchased. Inbound Immigrant Insurance plan can be purchased for up to 364 days and then it can be renewed.
What is home country?
In general, home country is the place where you live or where you spend most of your time in a year. Home country is the place where you have your fixed permanent home and you get your regular mail.
However, different government agencies consider your home country to be different. e.g., if you are greencard holder, IRS (tax department) considers that your home country is the U.S. and you must pay income tax in the U.S. on your worldwide income. USCIS (immigration department) considers greencard holders to be the permanent residents of the U.S. but at the same time, allows the person to maintain the green card even if the person spends up to 6 months in a year outside the U.S. and with Re-Entry Permit, the person can stay outside the U.S. for up to 2 years at a time and still maintain "permanent resident" status of the U.S.
On the other hand, as there is no precise and universal definition of the home country and there is discrepancy in various government departments, different insurance companies consider the person's home country different based on the same set of circumstances.
Due to the gray area and discrepancy above, many elderly parents who recently got the greencard that may be shuttling back and forth to/from US and their native country (country of citizenship) may not be entirely clear regarding what they should consider their home country.
Why can't green card holders purchase insurance plans like Atlas America, Diplomat America, Visit USA-HealthCare, or Safe Travels USA?
Because these insurance companies and/or their administrators consider U.S. to be the home country for green card holders. These plans are meant to cover outside the home country.
We completely understand that some of you may really be interested in purchasing plans like Atlas America plans because they provide a lot higher amount of acute onset of pre-existing conditions coverage that other plans may not provide. However, please understand that your first priority should be to purchase the insurance that you are really eligible for. Insurance is just a piece of paper until you need to use it. If the insurance company determines that you purchased the plan you were not eligible for, your claims would not be paid and your policy would be void.
How will the insurance company know that my father-in-law is green card holder? He is just visiting the U.S. for 2 months. Why can't I purchase Atlas America insurance, for example?
We have absolutely nothing against any of the plans as we offer most major plans available from most of the companies in such market. It is our utmost priority to offer you the plan you are eligible for. Even though no documents are asked for at the time of purchase, it asks you to specify your 'Home Country' in the application, and if you incorrectly mentioned that in your application as per the definitions and terms and conditions of the policy, your policy would be void. How would they come to know? At the time of claim, the insurance company can ask for various documents such as copy of passport, visa, I-94 etc. Greencard holder will not have any I-94 form and will not have any non-immigrant visa.
I have visited other web sites and they have listed the plans under new immigrants section that you claim my greencard holder parents can't purchase. Why such discrepancy? Who is correct?
While we certainly can not comment about the knowledge, expertise or business ethics of others, you can be assured that if someone can purchase the insurance in a given circumstances, we have absolutely no problem in offering that to you, as we already sell those plans to those who are eligible.
Finally, it is your decision what you like to do. However, please keep in mind that if you do something now that is convenient to you (and some agent) but it is not right, at the time of the claim, the insurance company will do whatever is convenient (and correct) for them. You don't want to be left without coverage when you most need it.
I have decided that I will purchase what I want to purchase, no matter what you have to say, and I will take the chances.
That is certainly your decision and we fully respect that. However, if you bought the insurance you were not eligible to purchase, and if the insurance company rejects your claims (which they certainly will), please don't complain that they didn't pay or cancelled your insurance. And please do not buy from our web site, in this case.
How come there are more choices for visitors to USA and more coverage for them, compared to greencard holders?
That is really not the case. Those who have worked in the U.S. for 40 quarters or more can enroll into Medicare when they are 65 years of age and that includes most U.S. citizens and permanent residents in the U.S. Most of the problem is because people who immigrate to the U.S.(rather, get green card) at that age, are attempting to join the system so late in life. Therefore, it is a matter of supply and demand and economics.
What if I have applied for my mother's greencard and it is pending but she has not received greencard yet? She entered the U.S. on visitors visa but her I-485 (Adjustment of Status) is currently pending.
Eligibility for insurance is not always tied to whether the person has green card or not, as it is strictly an immigration related matter. There is not always one to one correspondence between being a green card holder and home country being the U.S. If your mother's greencard is pending, she is in the U.S. and has shown intentions to live in the U.S. permanently (by filing greencard), her home country is now the U.S. Therefore, look at rest of the FAQ above for a suitable plan.
By the way, if her I-485 (Adjustment of Status) is pending, her legal status in the U.S. is "Adjustment of Status" and not "B2 - Visitors Visa". (This is only for your information and NOT an immigration advice. Please consult your attorney.)
What if I have not yet filed the green card for my mother but I am considering doing so? She is currently on visitors visa.
This needs to be analyzed on a case by case basis depending upon her age, how long she has been in the U.S., where she is located etc. Please call our office and we would be glad to help you select the most suitable plan for her.