You will not lose Medicaid eligibility just because you become entitled to Medicare. As long as your income falls under the limits for Medicaid eligibility in your state, you will receive both types of coverage. More than 8 million people have both Medicare and Medicaid.
In this situation, Medicare becomes your primary insurance and settles your medical bills first; and Medicaid become secondary, paying for services that Medicare doesn’t cover and also paying most of your out-of-pocket expenses in Medicare (premiums, deductibles and copays).
When you become eligible for Medicare, you must begin receiving your prescription drug coverage from Medicare’s Part D drug program, not from Medicaid. You will automatically qualify for the federal Extra Help program, which enables you to receive Part D drug coverage without paying premiums or deductibles and paying only low copays for your drugs.
But to get this coverage, you still have to choose a Part D drug plan and enroll in it. To ensure that you pick a plan that gives you maximum coverage at the lowest cost, you may want to contact your state health insurance assistance program (SHIP), which provides personal help from trained counselors on all Medicare and Medicaid issues — free of charge. To find the main toll-free number of your SHIP (which goes by different names in some states), go to www.shiptacenter.org and select your state.
For more information on the Extra Help program, see section 2 of AARP’s consumer guide to the Part D program.