Medicaid: When You Can't Afford Healthcare
Medicaid is administered by individual states and is supported by state and federal tax dollars. It provides healthcare to who cannot afford the costly services of clinics, hospitals, and doctors, and have no other insurance.
Who Is Covered?
In order to qualify for Medicaid, you must meet certain requirements. These may include whether you are pregnant, have a disability, are blind, or are elderly. In most cases, you also need to be a US citizen or a legal immigrant. The state and federal government also takes into consideration your income, which must be low in order to quality for Medicaid, and resources (eg, property that you own). Children can be covered by Medicaid, as well, but they also have to meet requirements.
What Does My State Cover?
The only way to know what your state offers is to contact your local department of social services. Because the states vary so widely in their plans and whom they cover, it is a good idea to ask specifically about your situation. As health services become more expensive, some states cast even wider safety nets, while others have been forced to cut back. At least part of your expenses may be met by Medicaid, sometimes going back as far as three months.
What Is Typically Covered?
These are some of the basic needs usually covered by Medicaid to eligible persons:
- Most necessary hospital stays
- Outpatient services provided by certain facilities
- Laboratory and x-ray fees
- Nursing home services
- Family planning
- Doctors' services
- Medical and surgical dental treatment
- Some home healthcare services
- Some home medical supplies and appliances
- Pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care from various sources, including nurse-midwife services
- Some physical, speech, hearing, and occupational therapy
- Approved prescription drugs
- Screening and preventive services
- Some mental health services
- Hospice care
- Transportation to medical appointments
Some states also supply training and employment services to people with disabilities. And some provide wider services, including respite for caregivers who need some time for themselves, and various support systems that permit disabled persons to live in the community or in housing that meets specific needs.
How Do I Apply?
To apply for Medicaid, contact your state or local chapter of the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for more information.
Virtually all states will require an interview and will ask you for various kinds of proof of eligibility, such as:
- A birth certificate or other proof of age
- Citizenship papers or other proof of legal alien status (Benefits may extend to all children regardless of their parents' citizenship status, as well as to pregnant women and anyone needing emergency care.)
- Pay stubs and paperwork from other sources of income (eg, retirement, veterans' benefits, Social Security)
- A rent receipt or other proof of where you live (People who are homeless are also covered.)
- Other documents including bank books and insurance policies
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
US Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Overview. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website. Available at: https://www.cms.gov/MedicaidGenInfo/. Updated March 29, 2010. Accessed June 23, 2010.
Illinois Medicaid program brochure. Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services website. Available at: http://www.hfs.illinois.gov/medicalbrochures/hfs591.html . Published 2005. Accessed August 26, 2008.
Medicaid. New York State Department of Health website. Available at: http://www.health.state.ny.us/health_care/medicaid/#apply . Accessed August 26, 2008.
Medicaid at-a-glance 2005: A Medicaid information source. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, US Department of Health & Human Services website. Available at: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/MedicaidGenInfo/ . Updated April 2006. Accessed August 26, 2008.
Medicaid program—general information. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, US Department of Health & Human Services website. Available at: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/home/medicaid.asp . Accessed August 26, 2008.
New York State Department of Health. Medicaid in New York State. New York State Department of Health website. Available at: http://www.health.state.ny.us/health_care/medicaid/. Accessed June 23, 2010.
Last reviewed June 2010 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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