What is Medicaid, and how do you get it?

Newly unemployed and uninsured Americans may now qualify for Medicaid

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Millions of Americans have been forced onto the unemployment roll during the past two months as the coronavirus pandemic stalls the U.S. economy, and that has likely left many without health insurance.

More than 50 percent of Americans receive their health insurance through their employer; a recent analysis by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute forecast that 3.5 million workers had lost their insurance in the last two weeks of March alone.

Newly unemployed and uninsured Americans may now qualify for Medicaid, a federal and state program that provides health coverage to people with low incomes.

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Medicaid covers one in five Americans, often some of the nation's most vulnerable individuals, including 83 percent of poor children, 48 percent of children with special health care needs and 45 percent of non-elderly adults with disabilities, according to a recent study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The majority of Medicaid enrollees lack access to another type of health coverage. Medicaid covers a slew of health services and limits out-of-pocket costs for enrollees.

While it's subject to federal standards, states administer Medicaid programs and have flexibility in determining covered populations, covered services and health care delivery models, as well as methods for paying physicians and hospitals.

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To qualify for Medicaid, your income must have dropped to within a certain range of the federal poverty line, although that number varied by state. The eligibility for children and adults has been extended to 133 percent of the federal poverty line in most states.

For instance, New York requires that individuals earn less than $17,609 per year and that a family of four earns less than $36,156. In Florida, the limit is $16,612 for individuals and $34,248 for a family of four.

Eligibility is calculated based on annual and monthly earnings.

Unemployment pay counts as income, but the extra $600 per week payment stipulated in the CARES Act does not, nor does the one-time cash payment of up to $1,200.

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