Monday, July 8, 2013

How to Find Health Insurance for Immigrant Citizens to US?

If you are sponsoring a senior citizen who is immigrating to the United States, you may already know that obtaining health insurance coverage for them can be a challenge. Medicare does not become available to senior citizen immigrants, even if they are of qualifying age, until they have been in the country legally for at least five years. Even when they do qualify for Medicare in five years they will still have to pay for it, (unless they choose to become a U.S. citizen at that point
and undergo the naturalization process), which can take a year or more). Most insurance companies will not insure a lawful immigrant to the United States if they are more than 60 years old. My wife and I recently found out how hard it is to get health insurance for a senior citizen relative who is immigrating to the United States from Canada. I wrote this article to help others who may be in a similar situation. 

Bridge Insurance, An Option For Senior Immigrant Health Insurance

There are several companies that offer what is known as "bridge insurance", or a "bridge plan" to insure senior citizen immigrants to the United States. These bridge plans cover the five year period that it takes to get the senior immigrant to the United States enrolled in Medicare. Most of these bridge plans have a lifetime maximum of $100,000 and a deductible of between $1000 to $5000. The deductible is the amount of money that you must pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. There are bridge insurance plans for senior citizen immigrants to the United States that utilize HMO and PPO systems, as well as those that allow you to choose your doctor. Most of these plans have exclusions for pre-existing conditions such as heart disease. To find these type of senior immigrant health insurance plans use the search term "bridge plan insurance".

Combining Bridge Insurance Coverage With An HSA
You may want to consider one of the bridge insurance plans with a high deductible amount, (usually $3,000 or more). These will allow you to open a Health Savings Account or HSA. Funds in an HSA can be used to purchase almost any kind of legitimate medical service, such as hearing aids, prescription drugs, dental care, etc.,by using a Visa or MasterCard. Any income placed in an HSA is immediately sheltered from federal income taxes. An HSA can shelter up to $3000 (or more) of your personal income from taxes, for each family member who is on a high deductible insurance plan. Check with your financial adviser, tax preparer or banker how for information about much money you can put into an HSA each year. This money can accumulate and earn interest, just as money in a savings account does, so that you can build a financial cushion for future medical expenses.

Other Options For New Senior Citizen Immigrant Health Care

Aside from insurance, there are often community and state health care programs that do not require the person to be a U.S. citizen or below the poverty level to qualify for low cost medical care. Some states provide or sponsor alternative insurance plans for those who have no health insurance and who have a preexisting condition. Most of these plans require that you have a pre-existing condition, and to have been without health insurance coverage for at least 6 months. Free clinics, which are open to those of any age and income level, often provide low cost immunizations and other routine health care services to seniors, regardless of immigration status or income level. Check with with your state or local health department for the location of free community health clinics in your area.

One option that can reduce health care costs for a senior citizen immigrant to the United States to use a minor emergency care facility or "urgent care" clinic for basic health services. Many of these clinics offer a membership plan which can reduce overall medical costs. For example, there are urgent care clinics in our area that charge a membership fee of $70 a month for a plan that offers large discounts on basic basic health care services. Such programs are not insurance, but are a good addition to a bridge insurance plan since they allow easier access to basic health care without having to reach the high deductible of the bridge insurance plans. Some of the newer urgent care facilities provide full family health services, including, immunizations, repairing broken bones, allergies, etc. By the way, one for senior citizen immigrants to the United States to avoid hundreds of dollars of annual medical costs is the simple act of having an annual flu shot. These can be purchased by those with no insurance for as little as $25 at pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens.

How Immigrant Seniors Can Save On Prescription Drugs

For the prescription needs of a senior citizen immigrating to the United States, you may want to check with discount pharmacies such as Wal Mart, which offers many generic drugs for only $4.00. In Texas, the grocery chain HEB, offers almost all the same generic drugs as Wal Mart does, for about $5.00 each, with a drug plan that costs $5 to join. Many of thes "store plans" allow you to save money on both generic and non-generic drugs.

Be cautious when joining any of the discount prescription plans advertised on TV. Some of these plans do offer a real discount on prescription drugs, and some end up costing more than you will save. To find out which discount prescription drug plans are the best ask your pharmacist. Your pharmacist may not be allowed to make specific recommendations, but can tell you which plans they do accept. Many of these discount prescription drug programs do work well for immigrant senior citizens without health coverage, since they can knock as much as 40% off the cost of some drugs. Another alternative if you cannot afford the drug your doctor prescribed is to ask the physician for free samples of it. Also, you may contact the drug company, such as Merck, directly, and see if they have any discount programs available for the drug your doctor has prescribed.

Ask Your Physician For Prescription Drug Coupons 
Physicians also often have coupons for prescription drugs that they give out to patients, especially ones with high deductible health insurance plans or no insurance. Companies such as Merck, the maker of the asthma medication Singulair, (montelukast sodium), offer coupons for prescription drug medications worth anywhere from $15 to $100 a dose. Don't be shy about asking about prescription drug coupons if your doctor doesn't mention them. . You may even find prescription drug coupons for sale on sites such as eBay, but this practice may not be legal in all states.
Warning To Immigrant Senior Citizens: Don't Try To Cheat The System

Since most immigrant seniors are being sponsored by family members who are residents, (and who signed an affidavit of support) they are usually unable to file a claim for state or federal health care benefits. Most U.S. immigrant senior citizens cannot apply for Medicare, state financial aid, etc, free prescription drug plans, etc, until they have been in the country at least 5 years, living as lawful residents. This can be a legal "grey area" however, and you and your sponsoring family may still be able to keep your immigration status in good standing, while allowing you to receive government assistance such as food stamps or low cost medical care. Your best bet is to check with your immigration lawyer before applying for any such benefits.


  1. Thanks for sharing so much information about insurance products, hence I am writing short about them.
    Health insurance industry makes all information accessible through the insurance sites. The insurance companies provide access to policy details easily. It is an easy to operate tool and assists in clarifying all related confusions.
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  2. Nice information, please also list some best plans regarding senior people.
    home care gladwyne


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