Who is Eligible for Medicaid?

By Renee Gerber , last updated June 22, 2011

Medicaid is health insurance that is offered to individuals who earn very little or no income. It is available to people throughout the United States who simply cannot afford to pay their medical bills, including bills for any prescription medications they may need. The program ensures that everyone can be properly covered, no matter what their financial standing.

People often wonder whether they are eligible for Medicaid, especially when they have lost employment and their insurance has been lost along with it. It's a frustrating and frightening time, whether you have held your job for several years or for only one year and are stuck wondering what you are going to do now. The most stressful aspect of all is when you have an underlying medical condition, such as allergies or asthma, for instance. You probably require regular visits to an allergist to keep your condition under control, and you definitely need prescription medications as well.

Eligibility for Medicaid may vary state to state, but in general, if a person has $10,000 or less in their bank account, they can qualify. In addition, individuals who earn a minimal income that falls below the Federal Poverty Level can get Medicaid coverage. Women who are pregnant automatically qualify, as they have the added worry of having to seek prenatal care and eventually support their child. It doesn't matter if the pregnant woman is single or married; the Medicaid coverage will apply to both the mother and her child.

In some cases, children will be eligible for Medicaid while their parents are not. First and foremost, your child must be a United States citizen, either by birth or as a legally admitted immigrant. Coverage for Medicaid actually is dependent on the child's status, rather than his or her parent's. For instance, if a child has parents that are no longer together and one should be sending child support to the parent who has primary custody, they can qualify if support is minimal or nonexistent.
Senior citizens, aged 65 years and older, as well as disabled individuals who have limited finances are also eligible for Medicaid. This includes people who are living in a nursing home or some other type of special circumstances, such as a person who is disabled and requires home healthcare aides on hand on a daily basis. Families that have children who are under the age of 18 that have limited sources of income are highly urged to apply for Medicaid, as they too would be eligible for coverage. Keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to receive welfare in order to qualify for Medicaid.
Children and teenagers can also qualify for Medicaid if their guardians have limited income. This also applies to teenagers who are living on their own, although these individuals themselves have the choice of applying for coverage on their own or in having someone else -- an adult -- do so on their behalf. Many states cover kids up to the age of 21 for Medicaid, as such individuals usually do not have a great deal of income.
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