A Basic Explanation

Medicaid is a state and federally funded program that helps Americans with limited income pay their medical bills. It also offers healthcare coverage to people with disabilities and low-income elderly folks who need help paying for medical care that’s not covered by any other health insurance program.

Expert Advice About Medicaid

Some states refer to their Medicaid program by a different name. In Maine, for instance, it’s known as MaineCare. And in California it’s called Medi-Cal. States also vary in how they cover healthcare: Some pay medical costs directly to a provider, while others use private insurance companies to manage care.

Whether or not you qualify for Medicaid depends on how much money you make and where you call home. If you live in a state that expanded its Medicaid program as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and if your household income is at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), you’ll likely qualify. That figure is what the government says is the minimum you need to pay for basics like food, transportation, and shelter. (For example, the FPL for a family of four, in 2015, is $32,913)

In states that chose not to expand their Medicaid program, eligibility will depend on your household income level, who’s in your household and their age, as well as your state’s specific eligibility requirements.

For more information, or to see if you qualify call or visit your local Medicaid office.

Even if you don’t think you’re eligible, it still pays to check. It’s possible your kids (and in some cases, you) could qualify for a related program known as CHIP — short for Children’s Health Insurance Program. In most states, CHIP is run out of the same office as Medicaid.