Matthew Bardgett

Garden City, Kansas

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Matthew Bardgett, age 50, was left paraplegic by a car accident at age 19. Matt ultimately returned to work, but with no coverage offered through his job, and unable to get private coverage due to his pre-existing condition, he remained uninsured for 20 years. For cost reasons, Matt often delayed getting needed care. In 2002, Matt enrolled in Kansas’ Working Healthy program, which enables working individuals with disabilities to get Medicaid by paying a premium. Since gaining Medicaid, Matt has addressed long-neglected health problems, including depression. He has gotten both recommended preventive care and check-ups and needed specialist care. Medicaid also covers personal attendant services, which help Matt with bathing, transferring, and other daily tasks that exhaust him, enabling Matt to be more productive and improving the quality of his life.

Working Healthy, the Kansas program that permitted Matt to “buy in” to Medicaid by paying a premium, resolves a key dilemma for many working-age adults with disabilities who wish to work, but who need health coverage, cannot afford private insurance, and worry that their earnings will jeopardize their eligibility for Medicaid. To support employment for adults with disabilities like Matt, most states have implemented “buy-in” programs similar to Working Healthy, which allow individuals to have earnings but still keep Medicaid by paying a premium based on their income. According to a study by Mathematica Policy Research, as of December 2008, 42 states were operating a Medicaid buy-in program, providing health coverage to over 90,000 individuals nationwide. 

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For more information on Kansas’ Medicaid program and other data on health coverage, access and expenditures, please visit Kansas’ page at

I've shown my employers the work I can do and what I'm capable of as my health has been able to be maintained…By putting money back into the system and being a contributor, it made me feel useful.

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