Medicaid (in the U.S.) is a federal and state program that provides assistance with medical fees and costs for those with low income or resources. The program offers benefits packages that are not usually covered by Medicare. These services include nursing home care as well as personal health care services. Essentially, Medicaid is a government-run insurance program for individuals of all demographics who do not have sufficient income and resources to pay for their own health care.

Medicaid is currently the biggest funding source for medical and health services for individuals and families with low income in the U.S. It provides free health insurance to over 74 million limited-income and disabled individuals, adding up to (roughly) 23% of United States citizens.

The program is means-tested, and each individual state has its own regulations in place to determine who is eligible for its benefits. The annual cost of Medicaid sits at just over $600 billion. Individual states are not required to participate in Medicaid, but all states have since 1982.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as PPACA) is responsible for significantly expanding eligibility for Medicaid. Under this specific law, all citizens of the U.S. (including qualified non-citizens) that have income up to the 133% poverty line would qualify for coverage anywhere in the country that participated in the Medicaid program (currently, all 50 states). It’s been proven via research studies that Medicaid has improved health insurance coverage, access to care, and financial security for those enrolled.

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