Medicaid is the federally subsidized health insurance program for low-income individuals, the poor, the handicapped and the indigent. While much of the money comes from the federal government, Medicaid is administered at the state level, and states are free to set their own criteria for access to services and for eligibility. As such, eligibility requirements vary significantly by state.
Broadly speaking, there are two levels of eligibility criteria for Medicaid: income and assets. Most states base income eligibility criteria on the national poverty level for a family of a given size. The poverty level is published each year by the Department of Health and Human Services. If your income is below a certain percentage of the federal poverty line, you may qualify for services. However, you may also have to pass the asset test. If you have more than a few thousand dollars in assets to your name, you may be forced to spend down this money prior to qualifying for Medicaid.
Effects of Employment
If your employment provides you access to a group medical plan, you may not need Medicaid. Instead, you can join your employer's group plan once you are eligible. If not, then you must carefully monitor your earnings level. If you earn too much money at your job, there is a chance you could lose your Medicaid benefits.
Childrens Health Insurance Program
If your job renders you ineligible for Medicaid personally, you may still be able to obtain subsidized health insurance for your children via the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. This another federal program run under Medicaid/Medicare auspices which helps families on modest incomes obtain affordable health coverage for children.
Special Medicaid Programs
Many states have special programs that allow for relaxed eligibility guidelines for pregnant or nursing women, or for parents of very young children or infants. To find out if you may qualify under one of these programs, contact your state's Department of Health and Human Services. Your child may qualify, even if you don't.
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