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It is possible to get a Medicaid cell phone. The Link Up and Lifeline programs have teamed up to provide Medicaid cell phones to qualifying low-income households. The Lifeline program discounts the phone service and Link Up discounts the start-up cost. Both of these programs are supported by the federal USF (Universal Service Fund.)

The discount varies from state to state (up to $10 per month) on the monthly phone service is applied to a basic cell phone service plan for Medicaid-qualifying recipients. There are other ways to qualify for these discounted phone services. Federal regulations limit the recipient to only ONE Lifeline service at a time. While a Medicaid recipient may qualify for a cell phone or a land line, the federal rule limits the discounts to only one-not both-for the same recipient. For any state that follows the federal eligibility criteria for the Lifeline and Link Up programs, the person must meet one of two criteria:

 Income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.

 Participate in certain assistance programs including Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, Section 8 Housing, Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, TANF, or National Free School Lunch Program.

For 2011, the Federal Poverty Guidelines are as follows:

Persons in Family or Household live below 135% FPG

Number of people in household:

1 $14,702

2 $19,859

3 $25,016

4 $30,173

(Source: Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 13, January 20, 2011, pp. 3637–3638)

If a person is eligible for Medicaid, then that individual is also eligible for the Medicaid cell phone program (Lifeline and Link Up.)

For additional information and complete eligibility guidelines, check out the USAC website at http://www.usac.org/li/low-income/ or call 1-888-641-8722. Other sources of information include calling a phone service provider for your local area, your own state’s public service commission (PSC) or the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC. Visit the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners website, (http://naruc.org/) or look in your local phone directory’s Blue Pages or government section for your state’s PSC contact information. To find someone to help you navigate all the red tape, visit www.nasuca.org/archive/about/membdir.php.

If you qualify for Medicaid, then you qualify for a Medicaid cell phone. Check out the links or make the call today to get your Medicaid cell phone.

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In order to qualify for Medicaid, applicants must first fit into a certain category. These categories include children, parents of eligible children, pregnant women, and the disabled or elderly. If an applicant fits one of these categories, then the household must meet the requirements for income and resources. These limits vary according to the category of Medicaid and are the basis for determining whether Medicaid will pay for all or some of the health coverage needed. Verification of citizenship and identity is required and immigrants who are permanent residents but not yet citizens must meet certain criteria before they can qualify, including having been in the country for six years and having a minimum number of work quarters earned from Social Security.

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Medicaid is a health program that is funded by the federal government but administered by the state, so each state may have its own particular requirements and guidelines. Medicaid was created in 1965 and gradually adopted by all states. The program provides nursing home assistance and complete health coverage including dental care to qualified applicants for no charge, except in some cases where a spend-down (increment) or small co-pay may be required.

Benefits of Medicaid:

Full benefits under Medicaid are generally available only to children and the elderly or disabled. These benefits include dental and vision services, but use of these services is low compared to regular medical services. There are fewer providers of dental and vision care who will accept Medicaid as a payer, so these are underutilized. It may be difficult for Medicaid recipients to find providers in these areas in their state.

A valuable benefit of Medicaid is that there is a 3-month period in which a person can apply to have past medical bills paid by the program. This retroactive coverage means a family can apply for assistance after a medical event occurs and they realize they need the assistance. The household still must meet all requirements for the program, but it may cover bills for services incurred up to 3 months before the application date.

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Random Testimonial

  • ~ Shelly Peck (Little Rock, AR)

    shellypeck"This program was such a big help. With my free phone I was able to keep in touch with my family and friends and schedule doctor appointments"

  • Read more testimonials »