Medicaid is a state health insurance program for individuals who cannot afford medical care. Medicaid pays for some or all of their medical bills.  Only families with limited income can qualify for Medicaid. Individuals who are blind or disabled, age 65 or older, children, or members of families with dependent children may also be eligible. Medicaid in California is called Medi-cal.

Medicaid sends money to you and directly to your health care providers. Depending on your state’s rules, you may also be asked to pay a small part of the cost (co-payment) for some medical services.  Medicaid is a state administered program and each state sets its own guidelines regarding eligibility and services. Read more about your state Medicaid program here [<<INCLUDE LINK].

An individual must meet certain requirements to be eligible  for Medicaid. These requirements may include your age, whether you are pregnant, disabled, blind, or aged; your income and resources (such as bank accounts, real property, or other items that may be sold for cash); and whether you are a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted immigrant. The rules for calculating your income and resources vary from state to state and from individual to individual. There are special rules for individuals living in nursing homes and for disabled children living at home.

A child may be eligible for coverage if he /she is a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted immigrant, even if you (the parent) are not (however, there is a 5-year limit that applies to lawful permanent residents). Eligibility for children is based on the child’s status, not the parent’s. Also, if someone else’s child lives with you, the child may be eligible even if you are not because your income and resources will not count for the child.

Medicaid coverage may begin retroactively up to 3 months prior to application, if the individual would have been eligible during the retroactive period. Coverage stops at the end of the month an individual is no longer qualified. Please note that Medicaid does not provide medical assistance for all poor persons, unless they meet all eligibility requirements. Low income is only one of the requirements for Medicaid eligibility.

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