Medicaid: What it is and why it’s important

Louise Hoy

Medicaid is the largest health coverage program in the United States, offering comprehensive free or low-cost medical insurance to our nation’s most vulnerable individuals and families.

Across the country, 75 million people have some type of Medicaid coverage – giving them access to a broad array of health services, hospitals, and health centers.

​​​​What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a health coverage plan designed to provide health care services for millions of children, veterans, pregnant women, people with disabilities and seniors. Medicaid also covers millions of people who are employed, but do not have health coverage through their jobs or do not earn enough to purchase coverage. And it covers half of all births in the United States.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program available to support the health needs of nearly all people with low incomes. Federal and state governments provide funding for Medicaid programs, which vary from state to state. Eligibility is most often determined based on current income status, family size, and residency, which includes qualified non-citizens.

Many Medicaid beneficiaries have special health care concerns and the program generally provides care and services that address their needs.

For more information, you can watch this short two-minute video.

Why Medicaid is important

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicaid has become a lifeline for those who’ve lost their health coverage or are unable to find work.

The pandemic has put enormous financial stress on many individuals and families across the country, and unemployment remains high. Right now, ensuring access to Medicaid coverage is more important than ever and Providence is an advocate for all Americans who rely on Medicaid for essential care.

Who depends on Medicaid?

Millions of people depend on Medicaid for their health coverage — especially some of our nation’s most vulnerable individuals and families.

How much do you know about the role Medicaid plays in the lives of your friends, family and loved ones? Take the quiz to find out.

Medicaid covers and supports:

6 in 10 employed people with low incomes (who are not disabled or under age 65)

4 in 10 individuals with opioid addictions receiving treatment

1 in 10 veterans under age 65

50% of all births

60% of seniors who rely on long-term care

47% of children with special health needs

*Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Learn more about how Providence is helping to raise awareness of the importance of Medicaid across our seven-state region. Our Many Faces of Medicaid website includes stories of people who have benefited from having Medicaid coverage, expert insights, and information on how different states manage their Medicaid programs.

We hope you’ll join us on our journey to ensure that those who need Medicaid coverage can get it.  

Here are some valuable resources:


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