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Q My elderly parents are visiting me from India for a potentially long stay. They are green card holders but do not have social security numbers yet. What are my options to prepare for any medical contingencies during their visit? What services are they eligible for? Are there any federal or state services that they can take advantage of?

A My answer to your question will concentrate only on any medical benefits your parents may qualify for. In California, the different government sponsored health insurance programs include Medicare, Medicaid and Medi-Cal. Each program has different qualification standards that your parents must meet.

Medicare is a U.S. federal health insurance program that is administered by the U.S. federal government. It is available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents aged 65 or older who have worked and paid Medicare taxes in the US for 40 quarters. Since your parents have not been issued a social security numbers, they have probably not worked in the U.S. and paid Medicare taxes, thus, they likely will not qualify for Medicare.Medicaid is a U.S. State-based health program for eligible individuals and families with low incomes and resources. It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the states and federal government, and is managed by the states. Each state may have its own name for the program. In California, the Medicaid program is called MediCal. Having a limited income is one of the primary requirements for Medicaid eligibility. Another requirement is that they must be a resident of the state of California. To find out if they qualify, they would need to check with their local county MediCal office.

Alternatively, for green card holders who frequently shuffle between their home country and the United States, they may have other choices. For individuals in this type of a situation, they may need to buy either an Immigrant plan or a visitor’s plan that satisfies the eligibility criteria for such green card holders. There are several insurance plans available for individuals who require them and can be found on the internet. n

Immigration and business attorney Indu Liladhar-Hathi has an office in San Jose. (408) 453-5335.