Medicaid for Green Card Holders and Permanent Residents | Explained

If you’re a green card holder, also called a permanent resident, you may be eligible to enroll for Medicaid. However, your eligibility and scope of coverage will vary depending on the State that you live in. Read on to learn more about Medicaid for a permanent resident, including eligibility, coverage, and how to sign up for the program.

Medicaid Overview

Medicaid is a state-administered program that provides health coverage to eligible low-income individuals and their families. This program covers millions of U.S. residents, including citizens and qualified non-citizens, such as green card holders who meet eligibility criteria’s.

Medicaid covers several healthcare services, including:

  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital services
  • Laboratory and X-ray services
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Home health care services
  • Doctor visits and services
  • Family planning services and supplies
  • Diagnostic and screening services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Mental health services

The program is designed to help those who cannot afford healthcare and might not otherwise have access to healthcare services. Individuals and families must meet certain income and asset requirements to qualify for coverage. Each state has its own rules and eligibility requirements for Medicaid, and benefits may vary depending on the state.

In addition to basic healthcare coverage, Medicaid may also cover long-term care services, home and community-based services, and other medical services.

Medicaid Eligibility for Green Card Holders

Medicaid is jointly funded by states and the federal government. For this reason, the eligibility requirements vary from one State to another. For example, some states have specific requirements related to age, disability, pregnancy, and more.

Lawfully present immigrants are eligible for coverage only if they meet certain requirements. These include the following: 

1) Valid Immigration Status

If you are a qualified immigrant, you must provide proof of your immigration status to be eligible for Medicaid coverage. 

2) Residency

Most green card holders must wait 5 years after receiving their permanent residence status to be eligible for Medicaid. However, this rule has a few exceptions. For instance, refugees and asylees who become lawful permanent residents don’t have to wait for five years to apply for Medicaid.

Some states provide emergency medical coverage for noncitizens and unauthorized immigrants who would have qualified for full Medicaid benefits but for their immigration status, as long as they meet other requirements for obtaining Medicaid. 

3) Household Income Level

Permanent residents must meet their state’s income and assets requirements to qualify for Medicaid. This income requirement varies from one State to another and may also depend on the applicant’s age and family size.

How To Sign Up For Medicaid as a Permanent Resident?

The Medicaid application process may differ from one State to another. Here are the general steps for applying for Medicaid as a permanent resident.

1) Determine Your Eligibility

The first step is to determine whether you meet your state’s income and residency requirements to be eligible for Medicaid. Depending on your specific situation, visit the Medicaid agency of your State for inquiries or check your eligibility online. 

Keep in mind that some states use different terms to describe Medicaid. For example, in Washington state, Medicaid is referred to as Apple Health. So when checking your eligibility in Washington, you’ll need to search for ‘Apple Health eligibility in Washington.‘ 

  • California: Medi-Cal
  • Texas: Texas Medicaid & Healthcare Partnership (TMHP)
  • Florida: Florida Medicaid New York:
  • Medicaid Managed Care (MMC)
  • Pennsylvania: Medical Assistance (MA)
  • Arizona: Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS)
  • Massachusetts: MassHealth
  • Illinois: Healthcare and Family Services (HFS)
  • Michigan: Medicaid Health Plan (MHP)
  • Ohio: Ohio Medicaid

You may access the full list of Medicaid alternative names by state here.

2) Gather Your Documents

There are several documents you’ll need while applying for Medicaid. For instance, you may require proof of your legal permanent resident status, Social Security Number, proof of income level, etc. 

3) Apply for Medicaid

You may apply for Medicaid through your local Medicaid office. Alternatively, you can apply online via the Health Insurance Marketplace or by completing a Medicaid application form and mailing it to your local Medicaid offices.

4) Wait For a Response

Depending on your situation, the Department of Health may take 45 to 90 days to process your application. The waiting period may be longer if the government agency has difficulty determining your eligibility. Therefore, you must submit all the required documents on time to avoid this problem.

Once the government approves your application, you’ll receive a letter stating your eligibility date and the cost of care. On the contrary, if the government determines you’re ineligible for coverage, you’ll receive a letter explaining the reason for denial and how to appeal their decision.

5) Start Using Medicaid

Once approved, your Medicaid coverage may start on the date of your application or the first day of the application month. Depending on your plan and healthcare needs, you can start using Medicaid to access several healthcare services.

For instance, Medicaid can cover doctor visits, hospital care, prescription medicines, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, mental health services, vision care and dental services for children in some states, nursing home care, home health services, family planning, and more.

Read More | Health Insurance for Permanent Residents

When To Apply For Medicaid Health Insurance Program?

You can apply for Medicaid as soon as you meet your State’s Medicaid eligibility criteria. However, you may need to consider certain factors when choosing the best time to apply for Medicaid benefits. They include the following:

1) Your Income Level

Medicaid caters to low-income individuals and families. Therefore, if your income level isn’t sufficient to support your medical needs and your family’s, you may consider checking whether you’re eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

2) Your Medical Needs

Medicaid and CHIP can be valuable resources for individuals or their loved ones who are dealing with chronic or emergency medical conditions or disabilities. Depending on the state, there may be eligibility for specialized coverage that offers free or low-cost healthcare services to support these individuals.

3) Need for Long-term Care

Medicaid may also cover long-term care under certain circumstances. For example, if you have a medical condition that requires long-term care, such as a chronic illness, disability, or injury. And, you meet certain functional requirements, such as requiring assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, eating, and mobility. Eligibility criteria and covered services can vary by state.

4) Your Age

There is no specific age group for Medicaid eligibility. The program is ideal for different individuals, including seniors, children and young adults under the age of 21, pregnant women, adults with disabilities, parents or caretaker relatives of dependent children, etc.

Can You Get Medicaid Without a Green Card?

Noncitizens don’t need a green card to be eligible for Medicaid. However, they must be legally present in the U.S. and reside in the state where they seek Medicaid coverage. Illegal and undocumented immigrants are generally ineligible for Medicaid. 

Examples of noncitizens who may be eligible for Medicaid without a green card include:

  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Haitian and Cuban entrants
  • Immigrants granted parole for at least one year
  • Certain victims of trafficking
  • Certain veterans and their families
  • Immigrants with conditional permanent resident statuses
  • Non-citizens with valid non-immigrant visas

Can Children of Non-U.S. Citizens Get Medicaid?

Children of noncitizens may be eligible for Medicaid under specific circumstances. For instance, children born in the United States automatically become citizens of the country, and therefore, they’ll automatically be eligible for Medicaid regardless of their parent’s citizenship status.

Some states also provide Medicaid coverage to noncitizen children with certain eligibility requirements. For instance, lawfully present immigrant (non-citizen) children or those having certain immigration statuses, such as refugees or asylees, may be eligible for Medicaid coverage. 

As of 2023, a total of 29 states, including the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, provide Medicare to lawfully residing children and pregnant women without the five-year bar. 

Do Non-U.S. Citizens Applying for Medicaid for Their U.S.-Born Children Have To Prove Their Citizen or Legal Residency Status?

Children born in the U.S. to noncitizen parents can become U.S. citizens through birthright citizenship. As a result, they have the rights and privileges of a U.S. citizen, including being eligible for Medicaid.

Generally, the Medicaid eligibility requirements for a U.S.-born child are based on their residency and citizenship status rather than that of their parents. If you’re a noncitizen parent to a U.S.-born child, you don’t have to provide proof of your citizenship or residency while applying for Medicaid for the child.

The child may not have to meet some Medicaid eligibility restrictions you may be subject to as an immigrant. For example, the child may not have to go through the five-year waiting period to apply for Medicaid.

Bear in mind that Medicaid is a state-administered health insurance program, and eligibility requirements may vary from one State to another. As a result, you may need to meet other requirements, such as income level or your child’s medical needs, to be eligible to apply for Medicaid for your child.

Further Reading Healthcare And Social Security Related Articles

Can I Get Medicaid if I’m a NonCitizen But a Lawfully Present Immigrant?

You may be eligible for Medicaid as a noncitizen if you meet certain immigration status requirements. For example, you must prove you’re lawfully present in the United States, such as a green card holder, refugee, or asylee. Secondly, you must meet other Medicaid eligibility requirements (i.e. income and asset requirements), which vary from one State to another.

After confirming your eligibility, you can visit your local Medicaid office to apply for coverage or complete your application online. Note that in some States, noncitizens who are not eligible for Medicaid may still qualify for Emergency Medical Services


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