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Medicare and Medicaid Dual Eligibility: Medicare D-SNP (Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plan) Eligibility & Enrollment

Medicare beneficiaries who are also eligible for Medicaid are considered dual eligible. If you are Medicare dual eligible, you may qualify for a Medicare D-SNP (Dual Special Needs Plan), which is a type of Medicare Advantage plan.

61.9 million Americans are Medicare beneficiaries.1 In 2019, more than 12 million Americans were dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and are enrolled in both programs.2

Beneficiaries who are eligible for this combination of coverage are sometimes called Medicare dual eligible.

If you are dual eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, you may qualify for a special type of Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan called a Medicare Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP).

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In this guide, we detail how being dual eligible for Medicare and Medicaid can affect your coverage, costs and benefits.

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Can you have Medicare and Medicaid at the same time?

Medicare and Medicaid are both public health insurance programs. If you are dual eligible, you can have both Medicare and Medicaid coverage at the same time.

Two of the key differences between Medicare vs. Medicaid include:

  • Medicare is for people age 65 and over and for certain people under 65 who have a qualifying disability. Medicare eligibility is consistent for everyone across the U.S., no matter what state you live in.

  • Medicaid is for people of any age who meet certain income qualifications. Medicaid is administered by state governments, and eligibility requirements can differ between states.

Who is dual eligible for Medicare and Medicaid?

To be Medicare dual eligible, you have to meet the requirements for Medicare and your state’s Medicaid program.

To be eligible for Medicare, you must:

  • Be at least 65 years old or having a qualifying disability
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident
  • Be eligible for benefits through Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board

Generally speaking, Medicaid provides health insurance to low-income individuals and families, children and pregnant women. The best way to find out if you are eligible for Medicaid is to visit your state’s Medicaid website.

If you're eligible for Medicaid and want to find out if you're also eligible for a dual-eligible Medicare Medicaid plan, you can all to speak with a licensed insurance to find out if you're eligible. An agent can help you compare the plans that are available where you live and find out what they may cover, which could include benefits like prescription drugs and other services.

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What type of coverage do you get if you are dual eligible for Medicare and Medicaid?

There are two levels of coverage for beneficiaries who are dual eligible:

  • Full dual eligible
    Full dual eligible refers to those who receive full Medicaid benefits and are also enrolled in Medicare.

    People who are full dual eligible typically receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which provide cash assistance for basic food and housing needs.

    Qualifying as full dual eligible is based on your assets, which include checking and savings accounts, stocks, real estate (other than your primary residence) and vehicles (if you own more than one).

  • Partial dual eligible
    Partial dual eligibility includes those who receive assistance from Medicaid in order to help pay for Medicare costs such as premiums, coinsurance or deductibles.

    Partial dual eligibles fall into one of four categories of eligibility for Medicare Savings Programs.

A Medicare Savings Program (MSP) is a federally funded program administered within each state that helps lower income people pay for Medicare premiums, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.

The four Medicare Savings Programs are outlined below.

Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program

This program helps pay for Medicare Part A and Part B premiums, deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.

Eligibility requires:

  • Income of no more than $1,094 per month for an individual in 2021, or $1,472 per month for a married couple
  • Resources of no more than $7,970 for an individual in 2021, or $11,960 for a married couple

Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program

The SLMB program helps pay for Medicare Part B premiums.

Eligibility requires:

  • Income of no more than $1,308 per month for an individual in 2021, or $1,762 per month for a married couple
  • Resources of no more than $7,970 for an individual in 2021, or $11,960 for a married couple

Qualifying Individual (QI) Program

Like the SLMB, the Qualifying Individual program helps pay for Part B premiums.

Eligibility requires:

  • Income of no more than $1,469 per month for an individual in 2021, or $1,980 for a married couple
  • Resources of no more than $7,970 for individuals in 2021, or $11,960 for married couples

Qualified Disabled Working Individual (QDWI) Program

The QDWI Program helps pay for the Medicare Part A premium for certain people who meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have a disability but are still working
  • Lost their premium-free Part A coverage when they returned to work
  • Are not receiving medical assistance from their state
  • Meet the income and resource limits below
    • Income of no more than $4,379 per month for an individual in 2021, or $5,892 for a married couple.
    • Resources of $4,000 for an individual in 2021, or $6,000 for a married couple.

The income and resource limits listed above may increase in 2022. If your income and resources are slightly higher, you should still apply.

Medicare Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs)

Another type of coverage that may be available to dual eligible beneficiaries (depending on where you live) is a Medicare Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP).

A Medicare special needs plan is a certain type of Medicare Advantage plan that is designed for people with specific health conditions or circumstances.

A D-SNP is built for the specific needs of dual eligibles. All Medicare SNPs (including Medicare D-SNPs) provide prescription drug coverage.

How do Medicare and Medicaid work together?

For dual eligible beneficiaries, Medicare serves as the primary payer, and Medicaid acts as the secondary payer.

That means Medicare is the first to pay for covered services and items, and then Medicaid will help pay some or all of your remaining costs.

What is PACE for Medicare and Medicaid?

Another Medicare and Medicaid program is PACE, or Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.

PACE helps older Medicare beneficiaries to seek health care within their community, in their home and at PACE facilities.

Some of the things that can be covered by PACE include:

  • Adult day primary care
  • Dental care
  • Emergency services
  • Home care
  • Hospital care
  • Lab and X-ray services
  • Meals
  • Medical specialty services
  • Nursing home care
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescription drugs
  • Preventive care
  • Respite care
  • Social work counseling
  • Caregiver training
  • Transportation to a PACE facility when medically necessary

PACE is not strictly restricted to Medicare dual eligible beneficiaries. You may be eligible for PACE with only Medicare or only Medicaid (or both).

However, you must meet all of the following conditions:

  • Be at least 55 years old
  • Live in the service area of a PACE organization
  • Require a nursing home-level of care
  • Be able to live safely in the community with help from PACE

What is CHIP?

CHIP is a Medicaid program for children and stands for Children’s Health Insurance Program.

CHIP benefits vary by state, but they generally include EPSDT, or Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment services. This coverage is designed to ensure children receive proper early detection and related care so that health problems may be averted or diagnosed as early as possible.

CHIP programs in all states must provide well-baby and well-child care, dental coverage, behavioral health care and vaccines.

CHIP serves uninsured children up to age 19 in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but still have trouble affording care.

What is Medicare Extra Help?

Extra Help is a federal program that helps pay for out-of-pocket costs related to Medicare prescription drug coverage. Extra Help is also known as the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS)

The assistance that Medicare Extra Help may provide includes:

  • Help paying Part D premiums
  • Lowered out-of-pocket costs of prescription drugs
  • An annual Special Enrollment Period to enroll in a Part D plan or switch to a new one
  • Elimination of Part D late enrollment penalties

You automatically qualify for Extra Help if you are enrolled in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income or a Medicare Savings Program.

You may still qualify for Extra Help if you are not  enrolled in any of those programs but still have income and assets below a certain limit.

Find Medicare Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plans in your area

There may be Medicare D-SNPs available where you live, though they aren’t as widely available as other types of Medicare Advantage plans.

A licensed insurance agent can help you explore your Medicare Advantage plan options. Compare the plans that are available and find out what they may cover, which could include benefits like prescription drugs or dental care.

Find Medicare Advantage plans in your area

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Or call TTY Users: 711 24/7 to speak with a licensed insurance agent.


About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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