Medicaid is one of the most famous entitlement programs in America, but there is some confusion on who can apply and how they can do it. Medicaid is available to people who fit into several categories, including those with very low incomes, some who are disabled and the children of people who fit into various categories. If you’re thinking about trying to qualify for Medicaid, you need to know whether you qualify. One of the most common questions has to do with private health insurance. Are you barred from seeking Medicaid if you already have insurance? The short answer is “no,” but there are other questions to answer about your financial situation.
Medicaid eligibility varies from state to state
The first thing to know about Medicaid eligibility is that there is no singular national standard. The original version of the Affordable Care Act sought to force states to expand Medicaid to include people up to a higher level of income. The Supreme Court struck this down as unconstitutional, though, leaving states to make a choice on expansion. While some states chose to expand the program, others chose to keep it the same. This has let to a hodgepodge of state requirements.
General financial requirement for this means-tested program
Medicaid qualifies as what’s known as a “means-tested” program. This means that if you are going to receive assistance, you’ll need to meet the government’s standard for neediness. In most states, you can receive Medicaid so long as you earn 200% of the federal poverty level or less. In some states, this figure is much lower. People living either in poverty or right at the federal poverty level can generally qualify.
This is true whether you have private insurance or not. Some people are lucky enough to work for employers that provide insurance coverage. In many instances, those people are also earning very little money in their jobs. The test for Medicaid eligibility is not whether you receive insurance from an employer or from the private marketplace. Rather, it has to do with your level of income and other eligibility factors.
Medicaid assistance for qualifying applicants who already have insurance
If you already have insurance coverage but want to apply for Medicaid, you should know that the program will work a bit differently in your case. For the typical person who does not have insurance, applying for Medicaid will mean that they will receive coverage under the program. If you already have insurance coverage, then you are eligibility to receive premium assistance through the Medicaid program. The program will recognize that you are struggling to pay your premiums, so you can keep your current insurance while receiving a helpful check from the government.
Those who want to receive Medicaid should check their state law to see the income cutoff and other eligibility requirements. You aren’t barred just because you have insurance, but the benefits you receive will be somewhat different from the person who seeks Medicaid while having no insurance at all. Your state’s health department can provide information on how to best handle these issues.