What Government Program Provides Health Insurance to Low-Income Americans?

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides free or low-cost health coverage to millions of Americans, including some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. This program is designed to ensure that all individuals have access to quality healthcare regardless of their financial situation. Medicaid provides health insurance to 7.2 million low-income seniors who are also enrolled in Medicare, as well as 4.8 million people with disabilities who are enrolled in Medicare. In total, 12 million people have dual eligibility and are enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare, representing more than 15% of all Medicaid enrollees.

People who are enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare, under federal law, can receive coverage in both optional and mandatory categories. For example, Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program that provides health coverage to low-income individuals and families. For more information on this program, visit the Public Programs page or the California Department of Health Services. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a non-profit, nonpartisan research organization and policy institute that conducts research and analysis on a variety of government policies and programs.

Created in 1965, Medicaid is a public insurance program that offers health coverage to those with limited financial resources, including children, parents, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities; it is jointly funded by the federal government and states. The California Department of Insurance (CDI) recommends buying a Medicare supplement insurance policy if you have traditional Medicare to help offset your health care costs. Medicare is a federal government program that provides health insurance coverage to Americans age 65 and older, regardless of income, as well as to those under 65 with permanent disabilities. Despite some criticism of the system, most Americans say they prefer the current system, with seven out of ten (70 percent) saying that Medicare should continue as it is today, with the government guaranteeing health insurance for older people and ensuring that everyone can receive the same defined set of benefits.

Unfortunately, some insured Americans report having difficulty obtaining their health insurance, paying for care, finding a provider who is willing to accept their insurance, or getting a referral or appointment to see a specialist. A large part (72 percent) of the population knows that Medicare is the main source of health insurance for people 65 and older; however 17 percent say that Medicaid is the main source of insurance for this group and an additional 11 percent say it's some other program or say they don't know it. Additionally, nearly a quarter (23 percent) of people with Medicaid say they have trouble finding a healthcare provider who is willing to accept their insurance, compared to about one in ten people with employer-sponsored or Medicare insurance (9 percent each). The Kaiser Family Foundation is an independent source for research, surveys and news on health policy; it is a non-profit organization based in San Francisco.

More than one in four uninsured people over the past year say that they or a member of their family have had to sacrifice their basic needs to be able to afford health care. Additionally, approximately one in ten people with employer-sponsored coverage say the same. The creation of Medicaid has caused a significant drop in the proportion of Americans without health insurance coverage; subsequent expansions of Medicaid coverage for children and pregnant women in the 1980s and 1990s; as well as the most recent expansion of Medicaid coverage to low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have all contributed to this decrease. Six percent of people covered by Medicare and those with employer-sponsored insurance say they've had trouble paying their insurance premiums in the past 12 months.

People with Medicaid pay little or no cost for the health care services covered by the program; furthermore, as their incomes change throughout the year they can get in and out of Medicaid more often than people with other types of insurance. Overall, approximately nine out of ten people covered by Medicare (91 percent) and Medicaid (86 percent) say that their experiences with their health insurance have been positive; as do 87 percent of people with coverage through an employer who say the same.

Lucy Anderson
Lucy Anderson

Friendly bacon ninja. Passionate zombie scholar. Friendly twitter fan. Evil music buff. Infuriatingly humble social media evangelist.

Leave Message

Required fields are marked *