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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Medicaid: Health Care for People With Low Incomes

Medicaid is different from Medicare, although the names are similar.

  • Medicaid programs are only available to people with low incomes, limited resources, or certain diseases or disabilities.
  • Regardless of your income or assets, Medicare is available to every U.S. citizen over age 65 and some younger people with disabilities or specific diseases.

Although the federal government sets up general guidelines, each state runs its own Medicaid program. States establish what health care services are covered and which groups of people get coverage. As a result, Medicaid programs vary a great deal from state to state.

How Do I Get Medicaid?

To sign up for a Medicaid, you need to get in touch with your state's Medicaid program. The government's Benefits.gov web site should have information about your state's Medicaid program.

Having a low income and few resources may not be enough to qualify. Your state will have other eligibility requirements. These might have to do with your age, whether you are pregnant, and whether you have certain conditions or disabilities.

Keep in mind that even if you can't get Medicaid benefits, your child still may be eligible.

How Much Do Medicaid Programs Cost?

The cost of a Medicaid program depends on the state. Some programs require you to make a small co-payment for medical services in addition to what Medicaid pays.

What Does Medicaid Cover?

In general, Medicaid programs offer more comprehensive medical coverage than Medicare. They usually include hospital stays, visits to doctors, tests, some home medical care, and more. Again, the specifics vary from state to state.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Medicaid?

  • Some people qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid programs. They are called "dual eligibles." In these cases, Medicaid may pay some of your Medicare fees.
  • If you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid and enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, you are eligible for help in paying your drug plan's monthly premium, deductible, and co-pays.

To learn more about Medicaid programs, visit the U.S. government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) web site.

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