Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program plans are available to low-income families and individuals based on the household's income, size, age of the individuals and disability status. As of 2015, individuals can determine if they qualify for low-income health insurance when they apply for coverage through the health care marketplace.
Individuals can apply for the Medicaid and CHIP programs through the health care marketplace or their local state agencies. Certain individuals, such as families, children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly, may qualify for low-income health insurance plans automatically. Unlike most plans on the health care marketplace, individuals can apply for Medicaid and CHIP plans year round. If accepted, coverage begins immediately. Individuals covered by these plans do not have to purchase coverage through the health care marketplace or pay the tax penalty that uninsured individuals must pay.
Coverage for Medicaid and CHIP is offered through government-funded programs, meaning the programs cover most health care costs. In some cases, individuals may need to seek Medicaid coverage from private health care companies to receive additional coverage. Medicaid covers a wide range of individuals while CHIP covers children, specifically those whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. CHIP extends benefits to parents in a few states.