Many families choose to take out health insurance policies so they can be protected in the event of a medical emergency. Others decide they want health insurance so they won’t need to pay too much whenever they go to a doctor for a routine checkup.
Regardless of your circumstances, it’s always a good idea to have health insurance. Even if you don’t usually go to the doctor or don’t have chronic health issues, medical insurance can protect you financially in case you have an accident and need medical attention.
However, for many families, health insurance is so expensive, they can’t afford it each month. This is especially true for self-employed workers or part-time employees who aren’t offered health insurance through their employers.
If you can’t afford health insurance on your own, you might be able to receive Medicaid through the state you live in. If you qualify for benefits, you can obtain basic medical coverage for free. The following sections explain how you can apply for Medicaid health insurance where you live.
1. Learn about enrollment requirements in your state.
Every state offers its own Medicaid program. While many of the overall requirements are the same regardless of where you live, they aren’t guaranteed to be the same from one state to another.
That’s because states are able to establish their own Medicaid enrollment requirements. Medicaid is only available to low-earning families.
However, states determine the maximum amount of income you can earn and still qualify for benefits.
For this reason, you need to contact your local Medicaid office to learn about the enrollment requirements where you live. Usually, this earnings threshold is determined based on the average income in that particular state.
2. Find out about qualifications.
Once you learn about your state’s general Medicaid requirements, it’s important that you understand if you qualify to receive benefits through this program.
There are general Medicaid enrollment requirements you need to be aware of. These relate to:
- Your household’s earnings. Regardless of where you live, you can only enroll in Medicaid if you qualify as low-income. States determine if you meet this requirement by evaluating how much your household earns. You’ll also probably need to provide information about your family’s assets.
- Where you live. You can only receive Medicaid benefits in the state you live in. This means you need to make sure you’re submitting your application in your home state.
- The type of applicant you are. In addition to being a low-income applicant, you may be eligible for Medicaid if you meet your state’s categorical requirements. Usually, this means eligibility is also extended to qualifying pregnant women, children or applicants with disabilities or certain diseases.
- Your residency and citizenship status in the United States. Only U.S. citizens and legally-present immigrants can receive Medicaid.
If you believe you qualify for Medicaid, it’s important that you submit an application to your local Medicaid office. This is the only way to know for sure if you qualify for benefits.
Qualifying Citizenship/Residency Statuses to Receive Medicaid
- U.S. citizens
- Lawfully present immigrants
- U.S. nationals
3. Gather the supporting documents you need.
Before you can submit your Medicaid application, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with all of the supporting documents you must also provide.
In order for your Medicaid office to be able to process your application, you need to prove that you qualify for benefits. This means you’ll need to provide the following types of documents:
- Proof that you are a U.S. citizen – In order to receive Medicaid, you must prove that you are a citizen of the United States or that you have an approved immigration status.
- Documents you can use: U.S. birth certificate, U.S. national ID card, U.S. passport or Certificate of Naturalization
- Proof of lawful immigrant status – If you were born abroad, you’ll need to provide proof that you legally reside in the United States.
- Documents you can use: I-551 Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), I-688B or I-766 Employment Authorization Card or I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
- Identification card – You need to be able to validate your identity before you can receive Medicaid.
- Documents you can use: A state-issued identification card or driver’s license, U.S. passport, U.S. military card or school ID
- Proof of residency – You need to provide documentation that proves you are a resident of the state you’re applying for Medicaid in.
- Documents you can use: A copy of your current lease/mortgage statement, a utility bill or a federally- or state-issued identification card that includes your address
- Proof of your household’s earnings – Since your income is one of the most important factors Medicaid agents use to determine your eligibility, you need to verify how much you earn.
- Documents you can use: Paystubs, letters from your employer, tax documents, pension statements, proof of military pay or check stubs you receive if you rent out a room in your home
- Proof of supplemental income – If you receive income or financial support from any source, you must provide proof for this income on your application.
- Documents you can use: Proof of alimony, Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation or disability benefits
If you have trouble providing documentation for any of these categories, contact your Medicaid office. The agent you speak with might be able to tell you if there are any other documents you can submit.
4. Learn how to submit your application.
Once you gather all of the necessary documents and fill out your Medicaid application form, you can submit your application.
Different states may have their own requirements for how you can apply for benefits. However, you can generally apply:
- In person at your local Medicaid office.
- By mail or fax, if you have a paper application you need to submit.
- By phone, if you call your state’s Medicaid agency.
- Online by visiting your state’s Medicaid portal.
5. Wait for a determination from your Medicaid office.
After you submit your application, you need to wait until your state’s Medicaid office can review your application.
During this time, a Medicaid agent may call you and request an interview. This happens when program officials need additional information about you and your family before they can determine if you qualify for benefits.
After all of your information has been submitted, the Medicaid office will notify you with its official decision. If you’re denied benefits and believe the determination is unfair, you’ll have an opportunity to appeal the denial.