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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

How to Apply for Medicaid

If you think you're eligible for Medicaid, it's time to apply. While the rules are different from state to state, the basic process should be similar.

1. Check the rules for the state where you live. To do this:

  • Go online to Click on "choose a state," pick your state, and click on "view state." You'll see information on your state's program.
  • Or, call your state's medical assistance office. To get your local number, call 800-633-4227.

2. Fill out the application. Each state has its own form. It will be several pages long. For instance, New York has a 9-page form. In North Carolina, the form has 12 pages.

You can download the form from your state's Medicaid web site. You can also get it in the mail by calling 800-633-4227.

3. Gather up documentation. Your state will need to see some personal and financial information to make sure you're eligible. The specifics vary from state to state. But you might need to submit:

  • A tax bill for your home
  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • A pay stub to prove how much you earn
  • Your Social Security number
  • Other personal information

Double check the list to make sure you have everything you need.

4. Turn in the application. Many states want you to do this in person. For instance, your state may want you to go to a Medicaid eligibility office to apply. Some states let you mail in your form or fill it out online.

5. Wait for a decision. Most people find out if they qualify within 45 days of sending the application.But if you're pregnant or you're applying for your kids, you should hear within 30 days.

If you have a disability, it can take longer to process your application. You have to wait up to 90 days.

You may also have to wait longer if you don’t get all the paperwork in on time. Try to provide everything promptly. If you're too slow or don’t seem like you’re cooperating, Medicaid may reject your application. Then you'll have to apply all over again. Don't let that happen.

After the Decision: Next Steps

If you're denied, Medicaid will send a letter explaining why. If you disagree, the letter will also tell you how to appeal the decision.

If you're accepted, you'll get a letter telling you when your coverage starts. You'll also get a Medicaid card. To get the Medicaid benefit, always carry the card with you and use it when paying for health care, like medications or doctor's appointments. 
Keep in mind that even after you're accepted, Medicaid will review your case each year. The review is not as complex as the original application, but you may have to submit more financial information. If your circumstances change -- for instance, if your income goes up -- you may lose your Medicaid eligibility. You can reapply again to Medicaid in the future.

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