Is it possible to live in Canada half the year, and in the US the other half and still have Medicare in the US?

Heidi magic asked...

I just turned 53, have been on Medicare and Social Security since 2009 b/c of renal disease, kidney transplant, heart surgery, type 1 diabetes etc. Would like to live in Canada 6 months, US the other 6. Is it possible to switch back and forth b/t no Medicare (in Canada) and Medicare (in US)?

Expert Answer

The answer may depend on whether you are a U.S. citizen.

If you are a U.S. citizen who qualifies for Medicare, then you retain your Medicare eligibility regardless of where you reside. However, as it seems you already realize, you will have no Medicare coverage of any type -- even in emergencies -- for any medical care you receive in Canada.

If you are a legal resident of the U.S. but not a U.S. citizen, then the situation is a little different. In order to maintain your Medicare coverage, you must be a legal resident of the U.S. And to maintain legal U.S. residence, your primary domicile (where you live) must be in the U.S. If you spend too much time in Canada, or do not physically return to the U.S. often enough, you might lose your U.S. legal resident status. If you do lose that status, you would lose your Medicare coverage as well, even for the times when you are physically present in the U.S. If this is your situation, you should consult with an immigration attorney to make sure you fully understand the rules about maintaining your legal resident status.