ObamaCare For Green Card Holders, Permanent Residents

The Affordable Care Act - also known as Obama Care - defines a list of immigrants who can qualify for coverage under the new US healthcare marketplace. Lawful immigrants to the US (i.e. green card holders like parents, relatives) may qualify for ObamaCare and will be subject to the rules defined in the Affordable Care Act for residents of the U.S.

A lawful permanent resident is any person who is not a citizen of the United States but is residing in the U.S. under legally recognized status as an immigrant. Immigrants qualify for health care through the healthcare marketplace or their employer under the Affordable Care Act.

By definition, an immigrant is a person who comes to a country to live in that country. An immigrant is not a visitor. Visitors are better defined as tourists, and visitors do not qualify for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Lawful Permanent Residents and Obama Care

A lawful permanent resident - a green card holder - may qualify for affordable health insurance from the federal or state healthcare marketplace, or through a healthcare exchange program in their resident state. The eligibility, cost and other details depend on several factors including: age, income, state of residence, number of dependents, and geographical area.

The good news is that pre-existing medical conditions, or current health conditions, cannot cause an applicant to be denied health coverage. Pre-existing medical conditions are now covered and treated as any other medical condition.

Penalties for Not Enrolling in Health Insurance for Green Card Holders

Previously, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), required all US citizens and lawful permanent residents (i.e., green card holders) to have health insurance. The law required that every person have health insurance or pay a fine along with all of their medical care treatment costs. If you missed the open enrollment period and did not have insurance in 2018, the penalty fee is $695 for an adult and $347.50 for a child, or 2% of your annual income, whichever is more. Alternatively, if you spend more than 330 days outside of the US in a given year, ACA requirements may not apply to you.

However, effective January 1, 2019, Americans are no longer required by the federal government to have health insurance under ACA. Instead, it is now up to each individual state to decide if its residents are required to have healthcare. While you will no longer be penalized for failing to enroll, it is always best to have quality healthcare coverage for yourself and your family in the event of illness or injury.

If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), and pay your taxes in the US, you may still be required to have a qualified health insurance, irrespective of whether or not you live in the U.S. on a long term basis or you visit USA only for a few months a year.

Under the ObamaCare health insurance ordinance, you may qualify for government assistance affordable rate or state or federal medical or Medicare for Green Card programs as well.

To learn more about your options and locate your state's health care exchange online at HealthCare.gov. You may also consult any qualified licensed health insurance agent in your state.

If you are a green card holder and are looking for health insurance or have questions about how Obama Care affects green card holders, send us an email at support@visitorscoverage.com.

We know it is confusing and complex, and there is no one answer applicable for everyone, due the very fact that eligibility may vary based on many factors including the state of residence, age, number of years spent in the US, income level etc.

To make it simple here is what you should do preferably in the same order:

1. Check with Federal Health Department if the immigrant person qualify for the ObamaCare?

Depending on several qualifying factors, the person may or may not qualify for ObamaCare. For information on the new Affordable Care Act & eligibility, you can look up on the website: HealthCare.gov.

2. Check with the State :

Depending on which state you live, you may qualify for state health insurance program based on income and other criteria. Check with your state health Medicaid/MediCal department to check if they qualify or get any assistance with them the following source will help. Visit State Wise Health Insurance Exchange and Marketplace Information

3. Buy Private Insurance

In case, the foreign citizen and immigrants who do not qualify or are not eligible for any of the government supported health care or cannot get private health insurance in the US; the person can get short-term temporary health insurance that provides protection as per the policy specific terms. These plans are not subject to meet Affordable Care Act / Obama Care requirements and can be purchased by the green card holders.

To learn more and get quote online, visit Immigrants Insurance

Questions Related to Taxes, Penalties and Your Tax Status

For any Tax related questions, status or penalties, please consult a qualified tax professional or your attorney.

For questions related to your qualifying factors based on how many days, in a given year, you lived in the United States or lived outside of the United States, please contact Internal Revenue System (IRS). You may find the below links, useful, from IRS website:

  • International Tax Payers
  • IRS Webpage Related to Affordable Care Act and IRS
  • For New Immigrants, Green Card Holders or US Permanent Residents who do not qualify or are not eligible for US domestic insurance or Medicare, can buy temporary medical insurance providing medical coverage.

    Disclaimer: Information presented here is high level and for your convenience only, it may not be accurate and may not cover all aspect of the ACA or Obama care act. The ACA law is not fully implemented yet, definitions, eligibility etc. are subjective and may vary from state to state. You may contact a qualified licensed health insurance agent in your area to discuss your specific situations and options. You may also write to us at support[at]visitorscoverage.com.


    Information provided here is high level, provided for your convenience and information purpose only. Please review the Evidence of Coverage and Plan Contract (Policy) for a detailed description of Coverage Benefits, Limitations and Exclusions. Must read the Policy Brochure and Plan Details for complete and accurate details. Only the Terms and Conditions of Coverage Benefits listed in the policy are binding.