Medicare vs. Medicaid

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the attempts at modifying it over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about two important governmental health services: Medicare and Medicaid. If you’re not familiar with the differences between both, they can be confusing since they serve similar purposes and are even spelled alike. If you’re in the dark about what these two actually mean, you’re not alone—many people get them confused. Let’s shed some light on the differences between Medicare and Medicaid so you can stay up-to-date and informed! 

President Johnson established both Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 as government-sponsored programs intended to help cover healthcare costs. Both programs are funded by taxpayers and intended for specific parts of the population. It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone is eligible for either program. 

You’re eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 or older or if you have certain disabilities. Medicare helps offset the enormous cost of hospitalizations, medical insurance, as well as prescription drug coverage. You do not need to make a certain amount of money to qualify for Medicare; it’s age or disability-related. However, Medicare isn’t totally free. Often times, depending on state in which you live, you will have a monthly deductible—or fee—to pay in order to maintain your coverage. 

Medicaid is offered both federally and statewide for people who make a very small amount of money—typically, at or below the poverty level. Because of this, Medicaid has strict eligibility requirements and is for those who have no other options for healthcare coverage. While it offers limited services, it does provide basic ones such as doctor visits, hospitalizations and even nursing facility fees. Under the Affordable Care Act passed by President Obama, Medicaid was expanded in order to cover more people who cannot afford private insurance. 

While they are both important staples to the American healthcare system, Medicaid and Medicare vary in terms of its eligibility and requirements. Medicare was created to help retirees and the disabled offset the burgeoning astronomical healthcare fees, while Medicaid is intended to help the poor.

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