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Understanding Medicaid eligibility requirements

Many residents of Georgia who are eligible for Medicare frequently do not understand either the nature of the program or the eligibility requirements. Medicaid is a federally funded plan that provides medical care for individuals and families whose annual net income does not exceed limits specified by the state of Georgia.

Medicaid should not be confused with Medicare, which is a separate program that provides medical care based almost entirely upon a person's age.

To obtain Medicaid in Georgia, a person must first prove that he or she legally resides in the state. Second, a person must be a United States citizen. A person must also have a Social Security card because the number on the card is used by both state and federal programs to keep track of applicants and benefits.

The income limits for Medicaid vary depending upon a person's medical condition. Individuals who are blind or disabled are limited to an annual income of between $2,000 and $7,080, depending upon the person's current medical condition. A person who is terminally ill is limited to an annual income of $2,130 per month for hospice care. Couples are limited to $2,000 to $3,000 per month. Monthly income for persons who do not fit into either of these categories is limited depending upon the size of the person's household. A person living alone is limited to $235 per month, and a household of four is limited to $500 per month. Pregnant women are limited to an income that does not exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Persons who are deemed to be "medically needy" are allowed to sell assets and take other actions to "spend down" their assets to fit within the resource guidelines. Anyone who has questions about whether their financial status affects their Medicaid eligibility may wish to consult an attorney who is experienced in elder care law.

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