Medical assistance programs have had a long, ever changing history. Through the years there has been an effort to incite new laws that were geared to make the process of obtaining medical assistance easier. However, even with all of the advancements that have been made in the past few decades there is still a considerable number of Nebraskans who are uninsured or struggling to afford quality healthcare. Medical assistance programs are designed with these cases in mind. The aim of medical assistance programs is to offer medical assistance coverage for those who are either without, or about to lose, coverage due to financial hardship. A number of these programs have helped to drastically lower the amount of uninsured people throughout the state. Some popular programs available are Medicare, Medicaid and even the ACA. The following offers information for Nebraska residents on the various medical assistance programs and the eligibility requirements for each.
Nebraska Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid)
The Nebraska Medical Assistance Program aims to offer medical assistance to people who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Funded by the government, the Medical Assistance Program covers many services like inpatient and outpatient hospital stays, home health services, mental health and screening services.
In order to qualify for the Nebraska Medical Assistance Program, applicants must meet all three qualifying areas: income, household and nationality. The nationality requirement means that applicants should be legal United States citizens and residents of the state. In terms of household, those with members that are dependent children, elderly or disabled will be considered to be of greater need. Any households where an applicant is a noted felon may also have impacted eligibility. The final requirement of income states that an applicant should meet the federal poverty level cutoff for the household size.
Medicare is a program that is often confused with Medicaid. This program offers healthcare insurance for the elderly or disabled. There are a few different packages available for enrollment. They are titled Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. One package will cover what is known as “traditional” medical insurance through Medicare, while the other package will cover insurance through a private healthcare company. Depending on what a beneficiary’s needs are, he or she may subscribe to either plan. If an applicant has trouble paying for Medicare there are Medicare plans that will help cover some of the costs so that beneficiaries can keep their plans. In order to be eligible for Medicare an applicant must be 65 years of age or disabled. In order to prove a disability an applicant should have received disability payments for an established period of time.
Nebraska General Assistance Medical Clinic
The Nebraska General Assistance Medical Clinic is an income based clinic located in Lincoln and Lancaster county. This clinic offers medical care for residents in the Lincoln and Lancaster areas who are not insured through health insurance. For eligible applicants there are no medical fees or copays associated with services. These services are offered by appointment only. There are also a few different partner agencies that work with the General Assistance Medical Clinic.
Lancaster County General Assistance
This partner agency offers general medical care through authorized health clinic and physician locations to low-income residents. Some other services offered are cremation, temporary shelter, bus passes, referrals and vouchers for household and personal care necessities.
Nebraska Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
This program is intended for those who are not able to pay for medical services but who are also not able to qualify for Medicaid. CHIP provides the same services covered under Medicaid but this program is for children. The main objectives of CHIP are to provide care to children who need it, provide consistent preventive services, improve the enrollment and eligibility process and reduce the administrative burden when it comes to the eligibility process. Some of the services covered through the CHIP program are preventive care services, checkups, vision, dental and even mental health counseling.
In order to qualify for this program an applicant must be under the age of 18 and cannot be covered by any medical insurance whatsoever. Other requirements revolve around income. An applicant must be considered low-income to sign up. It should be noted that applicants who are taking care of young children who are not covered through insurance can also enroll into CHIP.
Affordable Care Act in Nebraska (ACA/Obamacare)
The Affordable Care Act was implemented several years ago and ushered in massive reforms to the health care system. This act required health insurance plans to offer insurance to individuals irrelevant of health status and these plans had to all offer minimal sets of service. This plan also fixed premium variations for plans to specific factors, such as family, location, age and if a beneficiary uses tobacco. While Nebraska did choose to uphold the changes of the ACA, it did not choose to join the Medicaid expansion that was provided. Regardless, the ACA allowed for more people to become insured in Nebraska and has improved health care quality overall. The ACA also allows for lower subsidies for many, which allowed even middle income families on the cusp of low income to be eligible for benefits. Once the applicant submits his or her application through the health care exchange, the premium calculates the subsidy and subtracts it from the monthly premium.