Finding Low-income health insurance. An overview of Medicaid and Medicare.

Finding appropriate and affordable health insurance can be a challenge, if not impossible, if you are low income. While it may seem like gloom and doom, there are some options you have.

For those who are more than 65 years or older, Medicare is an option. Medicare is a national insurance plan that covers aging seniors and people with disabilities.

There are two types of Medicare: Part A and Part B. Medicare A is hospital insurance. After meeting certain criteria, participants could receive coverage for in-patient, hospice care and even home health care. Part A does not have a monthly premium if you paid Medicare taxes out of your paycheck.

Part B offers more out-patient coverage, including doctors’ appointments and physical therapy. Part B often covers when Part A does not. There is, however, a monthly premium. This premium is deducted from the monthly social security check.

There can be gaps in coverage. That is where supplemental Medicare comes in. This insurance gaps are co-payments and deductibles. The supplemental is usually purchased through a private insurance agency. This new plan can help offset some of the usual but pesky additional medical costs.

Medicare also offers a prescription medication plan. If you meet the low-income guidelines, some of your medications could be free. (Yes, free!)

If you want low-income health insurance, you could qualify for Medicaid. Managed by the state, Medicaid helps low-income families fill the gap. There is not age requirement for qualification, however you must meet income guidelines. Medicaid is generally for U.S. citizens, but can be awarded to non-citizens in special circumstances.

Income is not the only consideration. If your resources are too high, you might not qualify. Resources include your assets such as a savings account. However, your home and car do not count. Qualifications also looks at medical debt to income ratio. If you have high medical bills compared to your income, you could still qualify.

Medicaid pays for hospital visits, doctors appointments, and community long-term care facilities. Medicaid also covers certain screenings like dental and vision exams not covered by Medicare.

If you cannot find traditional health insurance, and you meet the requirements, Medicare and Medicaid could be an option for you. It is important to fill out your Medicare and Medicaid paperwork as soon as you can. It is a government program that requires (sometimes) long processing time.

For more information, visit your State Department Web site for coverage in your area.