Medicaid supports millions of low-income Americans with free or minimal cost health coverage. Administered by governing states as a joint federal and state program, it serves individuals, families, the elderly, children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. In response to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, some states have expanded Medicaid to cover more people. Medicaid accounts for the biggest source of health coverage in the nation.
An extension of Medicaid is The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health coverage through a combination of Medicaid and stand-alone CHIP programs. CHIP is governed by federal guidelines, though states have the flexibility to create their own programs. Benefits vary by state accordingly.
Who Is Eligible for Medicaid?
Federal law mandates that states cover certain qualifying groups. Low-income families and individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are prime examples of mandatory eligibility groups. In addition, states have extra options for coverage and can choose to cover more groups, including children in foster care who would not otherwise be eligible, and those who benefit from certain home or community-based services. In some states, the program embraces all adults living beneath a specified income level.
How Does One Apply?
There are two ways to apply for Medicaid and CHIP. The first is to fill out an application via the Health Insurance Marketplace, which can be found online at www.heathcare.gov. If anyone in your household qualifies, they will forward your information to your state agency, who will then contact you about enrollment. You may also go directly to your state Medicaid agency to determine eligibility.
The enrollment period for Medicaid and CHIP is ongoing, so coverage can begin immediately. Even if you aren’t eligible based solely on income requirements, you might still qualify for other coverage options.
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