Research Outline

Medicaid Phone Plans

Goals

Provide insight into free phone service for those eligible for Medicaid.
  • Insights should include which Medicaid plans include eligibility for free phones and details on the phone benefit such as type of phones, if it is a paid dollar benefit or a specific phone plan, the details of the plan if a specific phone plan, use restrictions, etc.
  • Include state-specific insights for each state on if their Medicaid plans cover phones and details of eligibility and coverage.

Early Findings

Data Availability

  • Preliminary research indicates that data on free phone service linked to Medicaid eligibility, including state-specific insights, is available in the public domain.

LifeLine Benefit

  • LifeLine is a federally-run benefit program that provides low-cost phone and internet service to low-income individuals.
  • The program is available in every state.
  • Generally, individuals qualify for LifeLine if they participate in federal assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), and Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, or if they live on tribal lands or participate in tribal assistance programs.
  • Individuals can also qualify based off their household income - their household income must be at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For 2021, this was $17,388 for a household of one in the 48 Contiguous States, D.C., and Territories, and up to $35,775 for a family of four.
  • General consumers meeting eligibility guidelines can receive a discount of up to $9.25 per month. Those living on tribal lands can receive a benefit of up to $34.25 per month.
  • Only one LifeLine discount is available per household.
  • Service that is free through LifeLine must be used at least once every 30 days.
  • The service itself is managed by independent companies, which can be searched here.

SafeLink

  • SafeLink Wireless is a LifeLine program administered by TracFone Wireless.
  • The SafeLink eligibility is the same as for the broader LifeLine program.
  • Through the SafeLink LifeLine program, eligible individuals can receive a free smartphone, unlimited talk and text in the US, unlimited calls to Canada and Mexico, 25 GB of high-speed data, and up to 5 GB of hot spot data.

Summary

  • The initial research was able to identify the LifeLine benefit program linked to Medicaid benefits and provide general eligibility and program benefits.
  • Initial research indicates that specific plan benefit and phone types are most effected by the specific service provider, such as SafeLink summarized above or other providers that could not be covered in this initial research, such as Assurance Wireless.
  • As such, we recommend further research to identify additional service providers of the LifeLink program, and include specifics into their service area (i.e. states they cover), plan benefits, and phones.

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Prepared By
Alexis Z.
3549 assignments | 5.0