Medicaid is a U.S. Federal government program, administered by the states, that provides medical insurance for low income people.
In most states, hospitals are paid a fixed yearly amount for each patient assigned to them who is eligible for the program. Hospitals are then required to provide all covered treatment for individual patients, regardless of the cost of any given individual procedure.
The program does not cover all people living in poverty, although poverty is a universal requirement to be eligible for all state programs. In most cases (although this varies from state to state) the program provides coverage for:
- The permanently disabled who are on Social Security disability payments, and their children
- The temporarily disabled, if they are completely unable to work
- Children of low-income families, up to a certain age
- Pregnant women
- Low income seniors who are not eligible for Medicare.
Approximately 70 million people rely on Medicaid for at least part of their medical needs for at least one month durinjg a typical year, and the average number of people who are dependent on the program at any one time is roughly 50 million people.