Good health is important to
everyone. If you can't afford to pay for medical care right now, Medicaid can make it possible for you to get the care
that you need so that you can get healthy – and stay healthy.
available only to certain low-income individuals and families who fit into an eligibility group that is recognized by federal
and state law. Medicaid does not pay money to you; instead, it sends payments directly to your health care providers. Depending
on your state's rules, you may also be asked to pay a small part of the cost (co-payment) for some medical services. ("Medicaid
At-A-Glance 2005" may be downloaded from the bottom of the page.)
is a state administered program and each state sets its own guidelines regarding eligibility and services. Read more about
your state Medicaid program. (See Related Links inside CMS at the bottom of the page.)
groups of people are covered by Medicaid. Even within these groups, though, certain requirements must be met. These may include
your age, whether you are pregnant, disabled, blind, or aged; your income and resources (like bank accounts, real property,
or other items that can be sold for cash); and whether you are a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted immigrant. The rules
for counting your income and resources vary from state to state and from group to group. There are special rules for those
who live in nursing homes and for disabled children living at home.
may be eligible for coverage if he or she is a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted immigrant, even if you are not (however,
there is a 5-year limit that applies to lawful permanent residents). Eligibility for children is based on the child's
status, not the parent's. Also, if someone else's child lives with you, the child may be eligible even if you are
not because your income and resources will not count for the child.
you should apply for Medicaid if your income is low and you match one of the descriptions of the Eligibility Groups. (Even
if you are not sure whether you qualify, if you or someone in your family needs health care, you should apply for Medicaid
and have a qualified caseworker in your state evaluate your situation.)
To help you see if you may be eligible for a variety of governmental programs,
you may access the GovBenefits and BenefitsCheckUp websites. (See related links inside CMS at the bottom of the
When Eligibility Starts
may start retroactive to any or all of the 3 months prior to application, if the individual would have been eligible during
the retroactive period. Coverage generally stops at the end of the month in which a person's circumstances change. Most
States have additional "State-only" programs to provide medical assistance for specified poor persons who do not
qualify for the Medicaid program. No Federal funds are provided for State-only programs.
What is Not Covered
Medicaid does not provide medical
assistance for all poor persons. Even under the broadest provisions of the Federal statute (except for emergency services for certain persons), the Medicaid
program does not provide health care services, even for very poor persons, unless they are in one of the designated eligibility
groups. Low income is only one test for Medicaid eligibility; assets and resources are
also tested against established thresholds. As noted earlier, categorically needy persons who are eligible for Medicaid may
or may not also receive cash assistance from
the TANF program or from the SSI program. Medically needy persons who would be categorically eligible except for income or
assets may become eligible for Medicaid solely because of
excessive medical expenses.