Did you know that immigrants pay billions of dollars into the U.S. system each year? Our dollars help to run this place that is our new homeland. But our president continues to bad-mouth us anyway.
As a part of my research, I did some reading on the Medicare program in the United States. I was surprised to learn about the billions of dollars paid into the Medicare Trust Fund by immigrants. Between 2002 and 2009, mainly through payroll deductions, immigrants contributed an excess of $115 billion to Medicare.
How did this happen?
In 2009 alone, immigrants contributed $33 billion to the trust fund, nearly 15% of total contributions that year. In immigrant populations there were about 6.5 working individuals for each senior citizen in the Medicare program.
We spoke to a friend’s grandmother who is trying to find out more about Medicare and we shared some of the information with her.
“I am happy to learn how much we immigrants contribute to this United States of America,” said Agatha Garvey, a New Jersey resident. wrote. “In 2002, I immigrated from Trinidad and Tobago.
“It took a while for me to find a job,” she recalled. “My first job was in the housekeeping department at a local hospital.
“Oftentimes there were those who made negative comments in my presence about immigrants taking American jobs,” she said sadly.
Garvey went on to say, “I must admit there were many days when I felt insulted and unwelcomed, but I made a decision to shrug it off and I continued to focus on my dreams instead.
“It took six years of hard work at night school, but my dreams were realized,” she said. “Now, I have a well-paid position in the billing department of the same hospital but I am getting ready to retire [from], and even though I work at a hospital, I don’t understand the Medicare system and what I am qualified for.”
According to justiceinaging.org: “Enrolling in the Medicare program and accessing its benefits can be complex and is often confusing for older adults. The process can be even more challenging for older immigrants, some of whom do not have a significant work history in the United States, are not citizens, or have limited English proficiency. Almost 7 million U.S. residents age 65 and older are immigrants, and 4 million Medicare beneficiaries speak little English.”
Various articles on the site pointed out that many older immigrants who came this country later in their life usually have little to no work history in the United States. This is what determines their eligibility and affects their Medicare costs.
Most Medicare beneficiaries qualify for Part A coverage, which is the hospital benefits, and they don’t have to pay a premium. In order to qualify, they must work for 40 quarters (usually 10 years of uninterrupted work). If they did not work or don’t have enough points, they could qualify on their spouses credits. If they do not have the required credits, they must pay higher premiums for Part A coverage which was as high as $437 a month in 2019.
In addition, Medicare Part B, the physicians benefits and other health benefits, requires a premium payment, which for 2019 was $135.50 monthly.
To purchase Part A, an individual must also enroll in Part B. On the other hand, it is possible to enroll only in Part B and not have Part A coverage.
Individuals can enroll in the Part D prescription drug benefit if they have either Part A or Part B coverage.
From speaking with an experienced Medicare agent, we found out that the Social Security Administration determines eligibility and handles enrollment for the two main Medicare benefits.
Most citizens who are 65 and older are already in the system, but naturalized citizens and green card holders have to contact their local SSA office to make sure that they get into the system.
It is very important to work with a qualified Medicare-Medicaid agent who can guide you in getting registered and filling out the right forms.
Over the years, there has been a lot of talk about the Medicare running out of money because there are not enough young people paying into the system. In this current environment of COVID-19, where people are losing their jobs or getting fewer hours and maybe taking a retirement option, we need to stop pulling our hair out and sitting around worrying about where the money is going to come from.
We, as immigrants, need to be proactive and educate ourselves on how we can take advantage of a system that we have already paid into.