Medicare And Medicaid: What’s The Difference?

What are the distinctions between Medicare and Medicaid? While the names may be similar and both assist in paying for health care and medical expenses, the programs are separate and different. Here’s a closer peek at the two programs and what you should remember about them.

Medicare is a federal medical insurance plan run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal government organization. It primarily serves people age 65 and older and even young disabled people and those with ALS or permanent kidney failure. U.S. citizens and permanent residents with a work record are qualified for the program, and they finance it from payroll deductions. Those on Medicare also pay premiums and co-pays.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program, which is operated by the individual states. It provides health care and long-term assistance to those who are financially eligible. Medicaid’s major difference is in the provision of long-term care, which is unavailable under Medicare or any other type of medical or health insurance. Qualification rules vary by individual state, and focus generally on asset and/or income levels.

Are You Dual-Eligible? 

Some individuals qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare, and are referred to as “dual-eligible.” In this case, Medicaid is the principal insurance for medical care. Medicaid may cover cost-sharing, including deductibles and co-pays, as well as premium assistance.

The accompanying infographic provides a simple guide to the distinctions between the two programs.

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