Medicaid is a type of private medical insurance coverage which provides health coverage to children, teenagers, adults, and seniors who are on a limited income with little resources or who have a variety of disabilities. Eligibility for Medicaid is split into specific groups which the individual must fit into, whether they are a senior on a fixed income, children whose parents do not have medical insurance, or pregnant women in need of medical care. Each state will have individual eligibility criteria and requirements which must within the federal minimum standards. Some individuals may also be approved for Medicaid benefits in combination with other medical coverage plans such as Medicare plans for seniors.

Each Medicaid plan is different with a variety of benefits which are split into mandatory and optional benefits. Some of the mandatory benefits include inpatient hospital services, nursing facility services, physician services, rural health clinic services, laboratory and x-ray services, family planning services, nurse midwife services, transportation to medical care, tobacco cessation, certified pediatric and family nurse practitioner services, and freestanding birth center services. Medicaid plans may also have the following optional benefits: prescription drugs, physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory care services, podiatry services, optometry services, dental services, prosthetics, eyeglasses, chiropractic services or other specialty practitioner services.

The majority of the eligibility criteria have to do with income or age such as families who live on a very limited income and cannot afford private insurance plans and seniors who are on a fixed income and are retired so therefore have no other medical insurance options. Aside from financial criteria, some individuals may be able to enroll in Medicaid based on other criteria like residency and immigration status. Seniors may also have the opportunity to apply for Medicaid even if they have medical insurance coverage through Medicare, which is available for all individuals over the age of 65. The majority of individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be eligible for Medicaid insurance coverage.

The first step to enrolling in Medicaid is to find out if you are eligible which can be found through your local State Department of Social Services or Human Services. This will be the department of your state government which provides financial assistance and food stamps. This department can provide you with a list of eligibility requirements. If you meet one or more of their requirements, request an application which you will most likely need to complete while in the office. If your state requires you to fill it out in the office, be sure to bring everything you will need before arriving at the office which may include your social security card, driver’s license or photo identification, pay stubs, birth certificate, proof of address, bank account statements, and proof of insurance if you have other types of medical insurance.

Fill out the application completely and honestly; you will be asked to provide documentation which acts as proof of income, insurance, residence, immigration status and age so be truthful when filling out each section of your application. The state office will look over your application once it is complete and provide you with more information on continuing with the enrollment procedure.

Jeff Giles