Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that:

  • Helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources
  • Offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare, like nursing home care and personal care services

How to apply for Medicaid

Each state has different rules about eligibility and applying for Medicaid. Call your State Medical Assistance  (Medicaid) office for more information and to see if you qualify. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to get the phone number for your state's Medicaid office. TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.

Medicaid spenddown

Even if you have too much income to qualify, some states let you "spend down" to become eligible for Medicaid. The "spend down" process lets you subtract your medical expenses from your income to become eligible for Medicaid. In this case, you're eligible for Medicaid because you're considered "medically needy."

To be eligible as "medically needy," your measurable resources must also be under the resource amount allowed in your state. Call your State Medical Assistance  (Medicaid) office to see if you qualify and learn how to apply.

Dual eligibility

If you have Medicare and full Medicaid coverage, most of your health care costs are likely covered.

You can get your Medicare coverage through 

Original Medicare

 or a 

Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C)

. If you have Medicare and full Medicaid, you'll get your Part D prescription drugs through Medicare. And, you'll automatically qualify for 

Extra Help

 paying for your 

Medicare Drug Coverage (Part D)

. Medicaid may still cover some drugs and other care that Medicare doesn’t cover.

Who pays first—Medicaid or Medicare?

Medicare pays first, and 

Medicaid [Glossary]

 pays second.

Medicaid never pays first for services covered by Medicare. It only pays after Medicare, employer group health plans, and/or Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Insurance have paid.

Medicare-Medicaid Plans

Medicare is working with some states and health plans to offer demonstration plans for certain people who have both Medicare and Medicaid and make it easier for them to get the services they need. They’re called Medicare-Medicaid Plans. These plans include drug coverage and are only in certain states. Find out if a Medicare-Medicaid Plan is available in your area.

Find out who to call about Medicare options, claims and more.