Medicare needn’t be confusing. It’s no secret that under President Obama’s current administration, our nation’s health care has undergone a major overhaul, and more modifications to the health program can and should be expected in the near future. One thing seems apparent: making health options affordable and available to everyone is one of the health programs continuing goals, and global accessibility means that the plan and various health options in the U.S need to be as clear and comprehensive as possible. Medicare, a nationwide social insurance program made available via the United States government, provides health insurance coverage to people 65 years old and over. Though the program has been effective since 1965, there are still some core questions that people have about the plan today, including eligibility requirements, available benefits, and what the pros and cons of the program are. One common question that people often ask is “Do I have to be a United States citizen to get Medicare?”
Before arriving to Medicare eligibility requirements, let’s first delve a bit closer into what Medicare is and who it’s for.
As mentioned, Medicare is designed to offer seniors (people aged 65 years or older) health care. It’s provided on a federal level by the United States government, and the plan consists of several parts, four to be exact. Medicare’s four components are hospital insurance, medical insurance, prescription drugs and Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare recipients can receive any number of combination of the above noted components.
Often, people asks who pays for Medicare. As is the case for most government-subsidized programs, the answer is you do, at least in part. Medicare is partially financed by the FICA payroll taxes that are imposed by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and the Self-Employment Contributions Act of 1954. Medicare’s portion of tax is equal to 2.9% of an employee’s wages, salaries and other related compensation. Half of that 2.9% is withheld from the employee, and the other half is matched by the employer.
As mentioned, the overall missive of Medicare is to provide health insurance for ALL persons 65 years old or older in the United States. Many residents of the US (those that are not citizens but reside in the United States legally) naturally ask “Do I have to be a United States citizen to get Medicare?, and the good news for them is the answer is no. As long as you’re 65 years old or older, and have legally resided in the US for at least 5 years, you’re eligible for Medicare, U.S. citizen or not. Do keep in mind though that in the event that you or your spouse haven’t paid Medicare taxes for a minimum of 10 years, you’ll have to pay a monthly premium in to to enroll and stay in the Medicare plan.