Can I use my Medicaid coverage in any state?

You can't take it with you: If you're relocating, you'll need to reapply for Medicaid in the state where you're planning to reside.

Q. Can I use my Medicaid coverage in any state?

A: No. Because each state has its own Medicaid eligibility requirements, you can’t just transfer coverage from one state to another, nor can you use your coverage when you’re temporarily visiting another state.

Medicaid offers health coverage to millions of Americans, and in many states, that coverage matches or even surpasses that of private health insurance. Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal government and state governments, but each state has the option to set its own rules and requirements for eligibility. As such, transferring your Medicaid coverage from one state to another isn’t always easy.

Transferring Medicaid benefits to another state

Technically, there’s no formal program or option that allows you to transfer your Medicaid coverage from one state to another. Therefore, if you’re relocating, you’ll need to reapply for Medicaid in the state you’re planning to reside in.

The good news is that you’re allowed to apply for Medicaid in your new state immediately after relocating, and doing so can help you avoid a lapse in benefits. It generally takes anywhere from 15 to 90 days to receive a letter of approval once you apply for Medicaid, and you can usually submit your application online.

One thing you should know about Medicaid is that you can’t be covered by it in two different states at the same time. Therefore, to transfer your coverage – so to speak – you’ll need to first terminate your original Medicaid coverage and then apply in your new state once you’ve relocated.

Most states offer retroactive Medicaid coverage, which allows you to receive coverage for up to three months prior to the date of your application’s approval. However, you may be forced to pay for healthcare services out of pocket until that retroactive coverage kicks in and renders you eligible for reimbursement. To this end, make sure to retain copies of all medical receipts for services received during your coverage gap.

Eligibility requirements

The challenge of applying for Medicaid in a new state is that each state has its own requirements for eligibility, so just because you’re entitled to coverage in one state doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed in another. Medicaid eligibility hinges on three factors:

  • Income level
  • Level of assets
  • Level of care requirements

The thresholds for income level and asset level eligibility are fairly similar across states. Level of care requirements, on the other hand, are more open to interpretation, so while you may qualify for Medicaid based on medical need in one state, that won’t necessarily hold true in another. Be sure to research the rules of the state to which you’re seeking relocation to ensure that your coverage will be able to continue.

Keep in mind that if you’re eligible for Supplemental Security Income, you’ll often automatically qualify for Medicaid – but some states have stricter criteria, so don’t assume that you’re eligible just because you get SSI.

Traveling to another state

If you’re traveling to another state and fall ill, you may be out of luck – Medicaid won’t cover the cost of services in a state that isn’t your home state. Generally, you can only use your Medicaid coverage out-of-state if you encounter a true life-threatening emergency that requires immediate care (meaning, there isn’t time to transport you back to your home state for care).

That said, sometimes, pre-approved treatment at an out-of-state facility is covered by Medicaid, but only when proper authorization is obtained. Similarly, Medicaid coverage may kick in if you receive treatment in an out-of-state facility that borders yours, and in which residents of your state routinely seek care. Again, you must make sure Medicaid will cover such care before pursuing it, or you risk getting stuck with the associated bills.


Maurie Backman has been writing professionally for well over a decade, and her coverage area runs the gamut from healthcare to personal finance to career advice. Much of her writing these days revolves around retirement and its various components and challenges, including healthcare, Medicare, Social Security, and money management. 

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Christy Simmons

Moved from California to Colorado need to reapply for Medicaid ASAP to keep my Perscriptions for behavioral health

jayson

Kind of a crock that they don’t make an exception when travelling to another state. Seriously…if you break a leg in California while visiting relatives, you have to fly all the way back for your medical care or have it done in California and pay for it yourself? Shows you why government shouldn’t be in charge of anything.

Justin

No, what that shows is that the federal government should pass laws allowing Medicaid to be offered nationally rather than decided by a state-wide legislative body…

Egon

For the record Justin is right. This is a failing of the federal government, not individual states.

Emergency coverage is provided outside the home state, although depending on the state, it may only extend to the care necessary to stabilize the patient in the ER.

Renee

This happened to my grand baby. The doctors appointment was covered but her prescription was not

Carol Tagliaferro

Medicaid recipients in NJ should be allowed to go to hospitals in the NY and Philadelphia metro area. They are called “border providers” and several other states allow their Medicaid recipients to do just that. I know first hand that even when NJ approves an out-of-state emergency the doctors/hospital do not have to accept the payment because they are not under any financial obligation to do so. A family can go bankrupt very easily under these circumstances. NJ doesn’t want out-of-state providers because of the red tape involved with billing, it has nothing to do with additional funding. Once an… Read more »

Rosie

Do you know if this “border provider” works the same with nursing home? Like if a patient is in a nursing home in NJ with their Medicaid will they be willing to pay for NY nursing home if the patient wants to transfer? or it doesn’t apply?

Katie Brown

Let’s say you need a limb preserving surgery aka if you don’t get this surgery, you most likely will lose lower limb use and eventually bladder/bowl function. The surgery will allow you to walk without mobility aids. You have a rare disease, and there is a specialist in Rhode Island willing to treat, but you live in CA. No known surgeons will treat or are knowledgable of rare disease. I realize exceptions are probably rare, but have you ever heard of one in a situation like this? Also, if RI and CA both carry a medicaid community option from UHC..would… Read more »

Hi Katie, I reached out to UHC Community Plan to see what information they could provide. They said situations like this do happen, and prior authorization for an out-of-state specialist is possible if there are no in-state specialists who can treat the issue. They said that you can reach out to Medi-Cal directly (800-430-4263) to start the process of changing your managed care plan to UHC (I’m assuming the managed care plan you have now doesn’t have providers in Rhode Island?). If and when you do that, your primary care provider could initiate the process of seeking an exception to… Read more »

Kerrie

I have children that are receivig medicaid in montana for an adoption qualification. How do i transfer this to south dakota

Eleanor Gause

Mentally handicapped daughter fell Christmas Eve in Michigan. She is a Kentucky medicare/medicaid resident. Her injury required Trauma orthopedic surgical
repair repair. Can I appeal for medicaid coverage?

Maurie Backman

It always pays to appeal these decisions, as sometimes emergency care is covered even when it’s out of state.

Vany

Relocating from NJ to Washington. Worried may not have coverage for some time during transition. Anyone know how easy it is to apply in Washington?

LeRoy Robinson

If a person goes to another state for vacation, they have Medicaid, what do they do for medical?

Maurie Backman

If a person travels out of state and needs medical care, Medicaid may not pick up that tab. Travel insurance may help in this situation.

Lisa Brooks

I have a special needs daughter that will be relocating with me. Can i start the process before she gets to Georgia? I do not want her benefits to lapse, from a to b!

Jocelyn Manzano

I have an NJ medicaid im moving california july 1st. Is it ok to apply now for transfer or better to apply after i relocate to new state? Thanks

Edie

My daughter just moved from NY to AR and has been unable to terminate her coverage in NY because no one will return her calls. Not sure how to terminate NY coverage to apply in new state??

Jennifer

So I am 7 months pregnant. Moved states for domestic violence reasons. Will my Medicaid not transfer?

Kandace Rich

My grandson is traveling from Montana to Minnesota in a week for his 2 months summer visitation with his mother. Am worried with the Pandemic. Is he only covered for life threatening situations and does he need prior approval from Montana and / or Minnesota?

John Joseph Hagerty

I’m 22, just graduated from college and don’t have a job. My residency is in Washington state, but I’m living in California. Can I apply for CA Medicaid?

Anna

Yes you can apply for Medicaid! I did this while I was in college. It’s called Medi-Cal in California. Also apply for foodstamps if you lack income and support.

Josh Schultz

Anna is right. Your residency for Medicaid purposes is different than for voting or a driver’s license. The only thing that’s usually required is you have to intend to continue living in California after you apply.

Julie A Fromm

My boyfriend has a life threatening situation where the sleep Doctor’s said his sleep apnea is so critical that, he may stop breathing and never wake up. He has AZ Medicaid and has been approved for a special procedure, only problem is the Doctor’s that know how to perform the procedure don’t accept his Insurance, woild this be possible for a near by state to be approved for? Please help, we are despirate!!! Thank you.

Josh Schultz

I am sorry to hear about your boyfriend’s situation. If you are asking whether he can receive Medicaid in a different state while still covered in Arizona — or whether Arizona Medicaid will pay for him to see an out-of-state doctor — the answer to those questions is unfortunately no. But since his insurance has approved the procedure, they should be able to help him find a provider who will perform it. You might try contacting AHCCC, the state’s Medicaid agency, to ask for help with this.

Jamie

My brother was recently in a life threatening motorcycle accident in Illinois – but he has Medicaid in Michigan. He was airlifted to another hospital in Michigan and was on a ventilator and received care in Illinois. The bills are rolling in. He did survive the crash – thank god! But wouldNt this fall under the life threatening emergency that requires immediate care?? Therefore, it should be covered? If so- who does one contact about these bills and further explanation and planning? He is clearly out of a job due to a TBI and cannot pay these bills.

Josh Schultz

I am very sorry to hear about your brother. Motorcycle or auto insurance would pay for these things first (depending on if he was insured and who was liable, of course). Only afterwards would Medicaid be liable. And unfortunately, whether Medicaid would pay for his care in Illinois depends on the specific rules in Michigan. I recommend contacting Michigan Medicaid at 1-800-642-3195.

Sam

My son will join West Virginia university for the next 4 coming years and his medicaid in New york ….How can i expand the Medicaid coverage to other state ? or should he apply for a new one in WV and he still under 18?

You should reach out to NY Medicaid and to your Medicaid managed care insurance company if you have one. They can give you more concrete answers about exactly what your son should do with his coverage. But in general, he would only be covered for emergency services while he’s outside of WV, if he continues to be enrolled in NY’s Medicaid program. West Virginia has expanded Medicaid under the ACA just like NY, so he could switch to WV coverage when he moves there. New York’s eligibility guidelines for people under age 19 are a little more generous than West… Read more »

T. Cundiff

Child with out of state medicaid staying with me for a while. need to get a well check up to enroll in school. can current medicaid be used or does she have to reapply for medicaid in my state?

It’s unlikely that the child’s current Medicaid coverage will pay for anything other than emergency care while out-of-state. But to be sure, you’d need to contact the home state Medicaid office or the managed care insurer that provides the Medicaid coverage. They may advise that the child should be enrolled in Medicaid in your state instead, depending on the specifics of how long you expect the child to say with you.

Megan eileen Jones

if my child is covered under state insurance in another state and visits me during the summer do I have to pay out of pocket or can I get them insured through my state when they are here?

You should contact the Medicaid office in the state that currently insures your child, as well as the Medicaid office in your own state, and ask them how to proceed. A person cannot be covered under two states’ Medicaid programs simultaneously, so their existing Medicaid coverage would have to be terminated before they could enroll in Medicaid in your state, assuming they’d be eligible to do so. Each state has its own rules for Medicaid eligibility and residency requirements, so you’d need to be certain that your child would eligible for Medicaid in your state during the summer before canceling… Read more »

denise schwarz

my daughter received Maryland medical assistance when I adopted her from foster care because she was considered special needs. I want to move to Virginia. will she still be eligible for medical assistance?

Marie

My son has Medicaid in Maryland currently, but will be going to college in South Carolina where the college requires minimum ACA insurance. He will need to either see if he qualifies for South Carolina Medicaid (they have not expanded so not sure he will or only until 19?) or purchase the college’s plan. Can you shed light on SC Medicaid in this situation? If he purchases the college plan, can he hold onto Maryland Medicaid to use when he comes home?

Trudy Fisher

Hello, relocating to American school for the deaf in Hartford, CT from Great Falls, Montana.. My son had suffered PTSD, Autism, and deaf.. He needs more help and resources.. He is not getting anywhere help from Medicaid in MOntana.. REfused providing same as other state.. how you recommended for transfer other medicaid..

Mary

Waiting on SSDI determination in Iowa; have IA Medicaid & food stamps. Friend has been letting me live with him for free, but sold his house faster than expected & we are now living in his RV. However, he plans to winter in Texas. Without him, I’m homeless. Am applying for housing assistance, but there’s a waiting list.
Can I get an exception to be able to get my Rxs filled in TX for 6 months?

You’ll need to contact Iowa Medicaid directly to see if they have an exception process or a mail-order pharmacy system that you could use. The contact information should be on your ID card (it will vary depending on which managed care company provides your coverage, or whether you have fee-for-service coverage; here’s a list of contact information: https://dhs.iowa.gov/ime/about/contacts/member-services )

Cristina

Hi, I am 4 months pregnant and my son is 8 months old, we are planing to move from FL to NJ because I lost my job and my fiancé’s salary barely cover our expenses. Thanks God, my son and I were approved for medicaid after losing my job, but I do not know if I should apply before moving or wait until I move, what will you recommend? And how long does it take for them to approve your application if you had the medicaid in another state?.

Chaplain Rodger DeRamus

Hello, I have a Brother-In-Law who was awarded Medicaid in Florida. He was living in Daytona, but later he had to move to Alabama. Now he is having some serious problems with some of his right arm and a blood clot right above his heart. The problem with his arm is caused from smoking and the veins are all clogged up and he can’t use his arm. Now he can’t get the doctors here in Alabama to touch him. He needs surgery to remove the blood clot and the veins need to be unclogged in his neck that could be… Read more »

I’m sorry to hear that your brother in law is struggling. It sounds like he’s enrolled in Medicare, and also qualified for Medicaid assistance in Florida? Has he checked to see if he’d he’d be eligible for Medicaid in Alabama to supplement his Medicare coverage? If he’s enrolled in Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B, directly from the federal government), that coverage will work in any state. And if he qualified for Medicaid to provide supplemental coverage while he was in Florida, he may be eligible for Alabama Medicaid now that he’s living there. I would recommend that you… Read more »

Melissa

If I am temporarily moving out of state to nearby state for 6 months, is it worth it to change medicare coverage back and forth or to keep the state of residency medicaid and travel back in case medical issues should arise? I need infusions every other month for gi issue so I would have to travel back at least 3 times if I make no change and could schedule other appointments in groups if necessary. What is your opinion on this?

Just to clarify, you’re talking about Medicaid as opposed to Medicare, correct? If so, you’ll want to check the eligibility rules in the state where you’re going to be living temporarily. If you’re currently in a state that has expanded Medicaid and the other state has not, you might find that you’re not eligible for Medicaid in the second state. But assuming you’re eligible for Medicaid in each state, it’s probably worth the paperwork to get coverage in the new state, unless you’ll be right over the border and traveling back would be no big deal. You’d need to travel… Read more »

Dee

Hello! I am attending school for three months in another state. How does school play into the the Medicaid equation?

Dee

Hello! I am attending school in another state for 3 months and am on Medicaid. How will that work in my new temporary state? Still no coverage?

Dee, you would need to reach out to the Medicaid department in the state where you’re going to school, to see if your plan to live there for three months would be adequate in terms of establishing residency and qualifying for Medicaid in that state. You cannot be covered under two states’ Medicaid programs at one time, so you would need to terminate your Medicaid coverage in the other state in order to enroll in the new state, and then repeat the process when you move back. Depending on what the state tells you in terms of their residency and… Read more »

Riza NZ

I don’t know what to do about moving with my autistic child who is on medication they very much need. It sounds like I won’t even know if we are covered until 3 months in and then I would have to go about finding a new psychiatrist. . .

Did the new state tell you that you’d have to wait three months? Most states allow for retroactive coverage (back to the start of the month you apply, or even a previous month in some cases, as long as you were living in the state at that point), although your Medicaid coverage in the new state can’t start until your coverage in the previous state ends, since you can’t have Medicaid in two states at the same time. You would almost certainly need to find a new psychiatrist in the new state. But it should be possible to have seamless… Read more »

Fran Rothel

Still in Louisiana because of covid restrictions to fly home to NY. Now hurricane Luara. I am a diabetic and my doctor wants blood drawn. I have a tele communication visit soon. Where do I get blood work drawn? I won’t be home until Christmas by the looks of this nightmare. Please help!!!

It sounds like your Medicaid coverage is from New York? If so, you’ll need to reach out to NY Medicaid directly: https://www.health.ny.gov/health_care/medicaid/program/contact.htm or, if you have a managed care plan (ie, a health insurer that contracts with the state to provide your Medicaid coverage), you’ll need to call that insurer – there should be a customer service number on your ID card. You can check with them to see if they have a way to authorize an out-of-state blood draw due to your specific extenuating circumstances.

Katie

I’m moving to Louisiana and I’m currently a Texas resident. My son is special needs and sees specialists he has seen since birth in Texas. He has Medicaid and I intend to apply for Medicaid for him in Louisiana when we move. But I want to keep his specialists and travel to Texas for visits. Is there a chance LA Medicaid will cover it? I would like to add, the city in Louisiana we will be residing in is less than 50 miles from the Texas border.

You will need to contact LA Medicaid directly and run this by them. Their customer service number is 1-888-342-6207 or you can email them at
MyMedicaid@la.gov
States and Medicaid managed care providers sometimes have Medicaid contracts with out-of-state providers, especially if they’re close to the border.

Michelle

What if specialist is only in another state?

You’ll need to contact the state that provides your Medicaid, or your Medicaid managed care insurer. States and Medicaid managed care insurers sometimes have Medicaid contracts with out-of-state providers or can make exceptions for specialist visits in situations like this. If there truly are no specialists for the condition in your state, that would be one of the circumstances when Medicaid will cover out-of-state care: https://www.macpac.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Medicaid-Payment-Policy-for-Out-of-State-Hospital-Services.pdf

Shelby Kraft

I recently broke something in my back, have scoliosis, bone spurs on the spine, fluid in my bone marrow, bulging disks, and need to see a specialist that many people in my state(Kansas) has recommended a dr in ft Collins Colorado! How can I get this approved to go see that dr

If the doctor in Fort Collins regularly sees patients from out-of-state, they may have some tips for you. But you’ll ultimately need to try to work it out with KanCare or your KanCare managed care insurer. It will help if you can show documentation to prove that this specialist is the only one who can treat the issues you’re facing, or that there aren’t any specialists in Kansas who have experience dealing with the particular mix of diagnoses you have.

Jordan Muse

I moved from Alabama to Florida. How do I transfer Alabama medicaid insurance to Florida for my children?

MAURIE BACKMAN

Unfortunately, you can’t just transfer your Medicaid coverage from one state to another. Each state sets its own rules, and so you’ll have to close out your Medicaid in Alabama and then apply again in Florida, assuming you’re officially a resident now. You can learn more about Florida Medicaid here: https://www.flmedicaidmanagedcare.com/

Matthew V Sailors

What if I was rushed to Chicago from Indiana I live in a bording Town to Illinois for treatment from a motorcycle crash

MAURIE BACKMAN

Sometimes, in these situations, Medicaid will provide coverage even if you are out of state, whether because you’re talking about a bordering state or an emergency situation. You’ll need to consult your specific Medicare office or administrator to see what coverage you were entitled to.

Sarah

What if you live out of your home state for school? Will Medicaid still cover you?