With health care expenses soaring and medical bureaucracies expanding, having quick and easy access to insurance information is paramount, especially for those plagued with chronic conditions. This reality is starker for those who lack the financial resources to afford even the most basic care.
Inaugurated in the 1960s along with Medicare, Medicaid was started to fill this vital need among the income-deprived and underemployed. Although not all medical practitioners accept Medicaid, enough do to serve the needs of this struggling population throughout the United States. The key to accessing these services is the patient's all-important Medicaid Identification Number.
What Is Medicaid?
In 1965, Congress passed new provisions of the Social Security Act that created Medicare and Medicaid. The former serves as health insurance for senior citizens who are retired or otherwise past their most productive years of work. The latter, on the other hand, is targeted at those who lack a living income, receive some form of public assistance or else have no alternative recourse for health care.
As the program is a U.S. and state partnership, the federal government oversees the program on a macro level, setting broad parameters and budget levels. The particulars of eligibility and administration are the responsibility of individual states.
Read More: How to Check Your Medicaid Benefits
How Does Medicaid Work?
Medicaid operations vary state by state, but there are broad similarities as to operations. In general, Medicaid funds private insurance companies to provide coverage to eligible recipients. Most of these businesses maintain traditional insurance services as well. Qualification parameters for recipients include:
- Minors living in households with a combined income no larger than 138 percent of the poverty line
- Pregnant people whose income is below 138 percent of the poverty line
- Parents or guardians with very low incomes as determined by state Medicaid representatives
- The aged or disabled whose revenue comes from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program
Once eligibility is established by the state Medicaid agency, recipients can avail themselves of many diverse medical treatments at little or no cost: physician visits; x-rays and laboratory test processing, at-home nursing care as well as nursing homestays. Hospital in-patient care and emergency room services are also covered by Medicaid insurance.
A state Medicaid agency can further opt to provide other assistance like hearing aids and dental care. Prescription drugs are paid for by Medicaid, but only at selected pharmacies.
Read More: Medicaid Benefits
How Do I Know I'm Enrolled in Medicaid?
Successful enrollees receive two cards that verify their coverage. One is issued by the state of residency and it indicates that the holder receives health benefits underwritten by the state government. This is the Medicaid ID card.
The other document is the card from the designated insurance company that actually makes payments on your behalf. Of the two credentials, the first card contains the Medicaid ID number. There might be several numbers on the card, in which case the ID number is the operative one. That is how the state Medicaid agency recognizes you.
Read More: Who Can Qualify for Government Assistance & Welfare?
What If the Card Gets Lost?
The best strategy is to record the number elsewhere for easy retrieval after receiving the card. Alternatively, memory can be very convenient in case of loss. However, if there is neither record nor recall, a Medicaid ID number lookup can be accomplished, in some states, online. Patients can set up accounts to monitor their activity or request information with a user name and password.
Another way is to contact the nearest Health and Human Services Office. Ordering a replacement card will likewise convey the number.
Adam Luehrs is a writer during the day and a voracious reader at night. He focuses mostly on finance writing and has a passion for real estate, credit card deals, and investing.