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All About Medicaid

Updated on September 27, 2011
Medicaid is Low Income Health Insurance
Medicaid is Low Income Health Insurance

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid Health Insurance is affordable healthcare for people with low income. "affordable health care" in this sense, means almost free.

If you are on the program you might have to pay a co-pay for services, but they are minimal ($2 to $4).

You will want to apply for Medicaid benefits if you get into a situation where you are without health insurance coverage for a temporary period.

For example, let's say you lose your job, you cannot afford cobra benefits, and you otherwise lack healthcare coverage while you look for a new job. This would be the perfect time for you to apply for the program.

Traditionally, most people apply for medicaid when they have low income or no income, and they cannot afford the incredibly high cost of paid health insurance.

*It is important to note that Medicare is the affordable health insurance program for seniors, and some disabled people, it is a completely separate program.


Because it is a federal government low income program, there are several eligibility requirements that you will be required to meet - here are a few of the things the will examine:

  • Your Income
  • Your Household Size
  • Your Citizenship

Single parents, pregnant women, senior citizens who need nursing home care, HIV/AIDS patients, and people with disabilities are the most common recipients of Medicaid

In some cases, if you are eligible for the program, you will also be eligible for a wide range of other programs and services like Children's Medical Services (CMS), Medicare, etc.

How Does It Work?

The program generally covers all costs of medical services for its low income recipients. In some states, recipients pay a small co-pay for services.

The program covers dental care for children at 100%, but most states have limits on dental care for adults.

Commonly, recipients have to choose an eligible managed health care plan to administer their services - it's almost like enrolling for health coverage at a job.

Common Gripes

One of the biggest concerns with the Medicaid program is perceived poor treatment, and even poor quality of healthcare.

It is a common occurrence for health care providers to treat patients as a "number" and get them in and out without providing quality service.

Doctors are reimbursed by the program at a much later date from when services are rendered, so their staff tends to book many appointments at once for larger payouts when the time comes.

Also, the lack of specialists is another concern of the program. Specialists like Rhuematologists, Cardiologists, and Oncologists might be completely absent in a region, causing Medicaid recipients to have to go without vital health care services or try to get to a different area for routine visits.

To further aggravate the issue, the program's main requirements is low income; therefore, many recipients lack sufficient transportation to get to a different area for routine visits.

Another issue is the fact that many quality medical providers are not attracted to the Medicaid program because they do not get paid well, or in a timely fashion.

The situation sometimes results in a lack of "good healthcare." Just like everything else, you get what you pay for.

If you have to utilize the services of the Medicaid program, do so, and then get yourself together so that you can afford to pay for better health insurance.

Appreciate a Good Doctor If You Find One
Appreciate a Good Doctor If You Find One

Positive Aspects of the Program

The good news is there are really good physicians who care about, and are dedicated to providing quality health care to all of their patients - regardless of whether or not they have low income.

There aren't many, but there are a few. The trick is actually finding these good doctors - in order to accomplish this, you have to be on your "A" game.

You have to get involved in your medical care and refuse to put up with bad service from staff or the doctors they work for.

When you have had a bad experience with a doctor, you should report it to your state medical board. If you ever need to do this, you can come back here to to use the State Medical Board Locator.

When you find a good doctor who accepts Medicaid, the best thing to do is hold on to him/her at all costs - get to your appointments on time, and try not to reschedule at the last minute.

You should also educate yourself about yours and your children's medical situation, plan out a list of questions, and make your doctor aware that you are an intelligent, and active patient.

Make sure your doctor can see that you appreciate his/her dedication - because no doctor has to participate in the program.

And of course, the absolute best thing about the program is that you do not have to pay (or you pay very little) for medical services. Medicaid has its flaws, but you should always remember that in some countries, poor people have no alternatives

How to Apply for Medicaid

Medicaid is a federal program, but it is administered by each state - you may be eligible in one state, and not eligible in another.

Also, just because your income is low, there still is no guarantee that you will receive benefits.

The following link will take you to State Medicaid Agencies, so that you can apply for benefits.

Good Luck to You!

Most states will allow you to apply online. Good Luck!


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    • wiseoldaccountant profile image

      wiseoldaccountant 6 years ago from Buffalo and Orchard Park NY

      Good article!

      This is an important issue.

      Please take a look at my hub which is an accountant's look at caregiver's agreements.

      Maybe we should link our articles. What do you think?