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Summarizes research on the impact of cost-sharing on low-income people.

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Publication Date: July 2001

Publisher(s): Families USA

Author(s): Kathleen Stoll

Topic: Health (Health services for low income people)

Type: Report


Medicaid reaches many people who need basic health care, but millions of low-income people are left behind. Most of the public, and many policymakers and opinion leaders, believe that Medicaid offers a health care safety net for all low-income people. Not only is this myth grossly inaccurate, it also discourages corrective action that could significantly reduce the ranks of the uninsured. Today, more than four out of five low-income, uninsured adults--people with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, or $29,260 in annual income for a family of three -- are ineligible for Medicaid or other public health coverage. Census Bureau data show that, nationally, an estimated 81 percent of low-income, uninsured adults--more than 13 million people--have incomes that are considered "too high" to qualify for coverage in their state. The holes in the Medicaid safety net are readily apparent. In 40 states, non-parent adults (childless couples or single adults) are ineligible for Medicaid--even if they are penniless--unless they are severely disabled. For parents, the Medicaid eligibility levels are very low--below $15,000 in annual income for a family of three in almost three-quarters (37) of the states.