It can be extremely difficult to know how to apply for Medicaid. Eligible people may not realize that they can apply for Medicaid or be wary about facing the government’s bureaucracy. Since about 50 million people are currently enrolled in Medicaid, it can be critical for eligible people to apply as soon as possible. Their application may take some time to process before it is approved. Knowing how to apply for Medicaid can be the difference between receiving financial relief and having to pay for the entirety of a medical bill.
As of 2010, 41 states had increased the number of people who were eligible for their Medicaid programs. Eligibility requirements vary considerably by state, but the federal government creates basic guidelines every state must follow when creating their programs. Eligible people generally include:
- Disabled or permanently injured people
- Pregnant women
Medicaid may be operated by different agencies in different states. Most states keep Medicaid in a Department of Human Services or Department of Social Services. Usually the department also provides food stamps and welfare assistance. After receiving an application, it must be completed in the office to help prevent fraud.
A number of documents must be shown or submitted when applying for Medicaid. These can include:
- Birth certificate
- Social Security card
- Pay stub
In particular, documentation about an applicant’s income is necessary. An applicant may need several months’ worth of pay stubs to prove their eligibility. They should expect to have to answer questions about their finances and any assets they may have. Income level is one of the primary determining factors for applicants. Submission and processing of the application may take a few days up to several weeks.
Medicaid can cover nearly all necessary medical care. It may pay for all or only some of the bill. The definition of “necessary” medical care is flexible and will cover most quality of life medicine. Medical treatments or surgeries that are purely elective in nature are not paid for by Medicaid.
As eligibility may change each year, people enrolled in Medicaid should stay in close contact with the state office in charge of Medicaid. Often people must submit documentation of their continuing eligibility after being successfully approved. Pay stubs may be enough to pass subsequent eligibility checks.
Medicaid will likely continue in some form or another for the next decade. However, states have been eliminating or restricting some of Medicaid’s benefits due to budgetary difficulties. Co-pays and premiums may increase to a limited degree.
Although people can learn how to apply for Medicaid on their own, choosing to speak with a Medicaid caseworker can help. The complexity of Medicaid’s eligibility rules and its constantly evolving nature means a family or individual’s eligibility may change on a yearly basis. Because of the stress that recurring or unexpected medical bills can place on a person’s finances, applying for Medicaid can be a necessity. For the best results, eligible families or individuals should consider speaking with a professional and qualified Medicaid caseworker.