Medicaid is a federally-funded program which provides medical assistance for certain individuals and families with low incomes and resources. Medicaid is the largest program providing medical and health-related services to America's poorest people.
Although the program is available nationwide, each State administers its own Medicaid program. This means that the eligibility requirements, services provided, and amount of payment for services varies from state to state.
People who are eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are automatically eligible for Medicaid. In addition, other families with children up to age 21, and pregnant women, may be eligible for Medicaid.
Aged, blind and disabled individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are automatically eligible for Medicaid. Such individuals with income and/or assets over the SSI limits also may qualify for Medicaid.
There are additional specialized Medicaid programs which pay for nursing home services, in home health care, Hospice and for Medicare premiums, co-insurance and deductibles. If eligible, Medicaid pays the doctor, hospital, or other health bills when treatment is medically necessary. The program can also pay for lab tests, prescriptions, eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, podiatry care, nurse midwife services, family planning services and supplies, transportation, mental health services, chiropractic care, and nursing care.
States may require small deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments from some Medicaid recipients for certain services. The following individuals are excluded from cost-sharing: pregnant women, children under age 18, and hospital or nursing home patients who contribute most of their income to institutional care. Emergency services and family planning services are provided to all Medicaid recipients without copayment.
Most states have information about their Medicaid programs online. On this page, click the name of your state to go to its Medicaid website.
You can also find information on Medicaid in an AARP magazine special report, Understanding Medicare: What You Need to Know (.pdf).