About 12 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are also fully eligible for Medicaid and its drug benefit. Most
of these "dual eligibles" qualify for Medicaid because they receive Supplemental Security Income due to low income
(on average, about 73 percent of poverty -- $6,200 for a single, $8,300 for a couple in 2000). States have other
options for covering the elderly and disabled, including "medically needy" or "spend-down" programs that extend
eligibility to sick and/or institutionalized people.
Participation by Medicaid eligible populations remains low. Millions of Medicare beneficiaries under 75
percent of poverty (about $6,000 for a single, $8,500 for a couple) are eligible for Medicaid prescription drug
coverage, but the participation rate is only about 40 percent.
Lack of information, ineffective outreach and welfare stigma contributes to these low participation levels.
This contrasts with an almost 100 percent participation rate in Medicare Part B for beneficiaries.