The single largest source of health coverage in the United States, Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that, together with the Children’s Health Insurance Program, provides health coverage to Americans, including children, parents, pregnant women, seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Federal law requires states to cover certain groups of individuals. Low-income families, qualified pregnant women and children, and individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are examples of mandatory eligibility groups. Depending on where you live, states have additional options for coverage and may choose to cover other groups.

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Although many of the Medicaid coverage details are determined by individual states, each state must provide certain services, such as specific hospital and doctor services.

Remember that it's better for you to apply for Medicaid and be turned down than not to apply at all. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) advises you to complete a Medicaid application even if you're not sure you qualify. A caseworker will review your case to determine whether or not you qualify for Medicaid benefits. Your Medicaid eligibility can change from year to year, so you may want to complete a new Medicaid application each year, even if your application was previously turned down.

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Need health coverage for your children? Check if they are qualified for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). If they are eligible, you won't have to buy an insurance plan to cover them.

CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Each state offers CHIP coverage and works closely with its state Medicaid program. In some states, CHIP covers pregnant women. In most cases, if you qualify for Medicaid, your children will qualify for either Medicaid or CHIP.

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