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What is Medicaid?

In 2018, Idaho voters approved a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid starting in January 2020. The program has been enormously successful, and so far, nearly 70,000 Idaho residents have enrolled in expanded Medicaid with 4,350 enrolled in Bannock County. But what is Medicaid? What does it do? And how does it help the people of this state? Medicaid is comprehensive health insurance coverage available to certain, eligible  residents of Idaho who would often otherwise have to go without medical care due to the frequently prohibitive costs of health insurance and medical treatment. It is usually offered at no cost to eligible Idahoans. Medicaid covers a wide range of preventive and emergency medical services including prescription drugs, health screenings, dental care, check-ups, and behavioral health services. Do you qualify for Medicaid? In addition to being an Idaho resident, you must be  a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant, being between the ages of 19 and 64. There are also financial guidelines. Currently, for a single individual, the financial limit is $1,468 a month (gross) or $17,616 a year (gross). For a family of four the financial limit is $3,013 a month (gross) or $36,156 a year (gross). You can go to the website for more detailed information. Medicaid is funded through a partnership between the state of Idaho and the federal government.  It contracts with hospitals, health clinics, individual health care providers, and managed care centers.  Idaho Medicaid is managed through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The process of applying for expanded Medicaid is a relatively simple one. There are several ways to do it. You can apply using the assistance of Idaho Certified Enrollment Counselors (CECs) who generally work out of health clinics and can help you through the application process. The CECs are excellent sources of information regarding Medicaid, and their services are offered for free. Another option is applying over the phone through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare at 1-855-289-1427. You can also fill out an application online at or a paper application and take it to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Something else to remember is that if you qualified for Food Stamps, Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), or other forms of assistance through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in the last year, you will be tagged as ‘presumptively eligible’ for Medicaid and will be ‘fast tracked’ and automatically enrolled. If you are interested in applying for Medicaid and would like some assistance with the Medicaid application process,  Health West has three Certified Enrollment Counselors covering all eleven  Health West clinics in southeast Idaho who would be happy to work with you. To set up an appointment with one of them call (208) 232-6260. Daria Van Dolsen works at Health West Pocatello and Health West Chubbuck as an Idaho Certified Enrollment Counselor (CEC) and as a Patient Outreach Coordinator.


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