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Can medicaid be secondary insurance?

Yes, Medicaid can act as secondary insurance. When an individual has both Medicaid and another form of insurance, Medicaid often serves as the secondary payer. This means that Medicaid will cover costs that the primary insurance does not fully pay for, as long as the services are covered under Medicaid.

How Medicaid Works as Secondary Insurance
  1. Primary vs. Secondary Coverage:

    • Primary Insurance: This is the insurance that pays first on a claim for medical services. It could be an employer-sponsored health plan, Medicare, or any other private insurance.
    • Secondary Insurance: This kicks in after the primary insurance has paid its share. Medicaid as secondary insurance helps cover remaining costs such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles, as long as the services are covered under Medicaid.
  2. Coordination of Benefits (COB):

    • The process by which Medicaid coordinates with other insurance plans to ensure that payment responsibilities are appropriately divided. The primary insurance pays first, and then Medicaid may cover remaining eligible expenses.
  3. Covered Services:

    • Medicaid will only cover services that it deems medically necessary and are included in its benefits. If the primary insurance doesn’t cover a particular service, Medicaid might cover it if it is within the scope of Medicaid coverage.

Examples of How Medicaid as Secondary Insurance Works
  1. Doctor’s Visit:

    • Your primary insurance covers a doctor’s visit but requires a $30 copayment. After the primary insurance pays, you submit the bill to Medicaid. If the visit is a covered service, Medicaid might cover the $30 copayment.
  2. Hospital Stay:

    • Suppose your primary insurance covers 80% of a hospital stay. You are responsible for the remaining 20%. If Medicaid covers the hospital services, it may pay the 20% that the primary insurance did not cover.
  3. Prescription Drugs:

    • If your primary insurance covers a prescription but requires you to pay a portion of the cost, Medicaid might cover the remaining cost if the drug is covered by Medicaid.

Steps to Ensure Medicaid Works as Secondary Insurance
  1. Inform Providers:

    • Always inform your healthcare providers that you have both primary insurance and Medicaid. This ensures they bill the primary insurer first.
  2. Submit Claims Correctly:

    • Make sure that claims are first submitted to the primary insurance. After the primary insurance processes the claim, Medicaid can be billed for any remaining eligible costs.
  3. Maintain Accurate Records:

    • Keep track of all Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements from your primary insurance and any correspondence from Medicaid.

Important Considerations
  1. Medicaid Coverage Limits:

    • Medicaid only pays for services that are within its coverage limits. It will not cover costs for services that it does not deem medically necessary or those not included in its benefits package.
  2. Eligibility and Enrollment:

    • Ensure that you maintain your eligibility for Medicaid. Any changes in income, family size, or employment status should be reported to avoid disruptions in coverage.
  3. Differences by State:

    • Medicaid programs are state-administered, meaning coverage and rules can vary significantly from one state to another. Be sure to understand the specific policies of your state’s Medicaid program.


Medicaid can serve as secondary insurance to help cover costs that primary insurance does not fully pay, providing a valuable safety net for those who are eligible. Proper coordination and understanding of both insurance policies are essential to maximize benefits and minimize out-of-pocket expenses. If you have both Medicaid and another form of insurance, be proactive in managing your healthcare finances by staying informed and keeping meticulous records.

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