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Medicare vs. Medicaid: What’s the Difference?

Medicare vs. Medicaid: What's the Difference?Many people mistakenly believe Medicare and Medicaid are the same thing. While there is occasionally some overlap between the two policies, they are actually intended for different groups of people and exist for different purposes. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between Medicare and Medicaid and which one applies to you.

What is Medicare?

First things first: who qualifies for Medicare? In a nutshell, Medicare is a national policy designed for individuals 65 years and older or for disabled individuals to help them with their medical expenses. Medicare resembles monthly insurance in that it provides benefits, but the individual still has to pay part of the cost through deductibles and copayments. Unlike Medicaid (which we will look at momentarily), it is not necessarily intended for individuals of a certain income level. Rather, senior citizens can choose from several Medicare plans to best fit their personal health needs.

To qualify for Medicare, you must be at least 65 years old and a legal citizen of the United States. You can potentially apply at a younger age if you have been receiving help for a disability. Additionally, keep the two primary parts of Medicare in mind: part A and part B. Part A refers to inpatient and hospital care, while part B refers to outpatient care and other medical coverage.

What is Medicaid?

On the other hand, Medicaid is a form of government assistance that provides inexpensive medical care for low-income households. Unlike Medicare, age and disability have little-to-nothing to do with eligibility. Instead, Medicaid is determined by how many individuals live in a home as well as how much income that home brings in annually.

Like Medicare, Medicaid households can choose from more than one plan depending on their eligibility and financial situation. Medicaid is helpful for individuals with expensive, long-term care. However, depending on your life insurance policy and named beneficiaries, it might take money later (after you pass away) to help cover the long-term care. Make sure you do your research before deciding what is best for your family.

Which One Applies to Senior Care?

As mentioned in the beginning, there is occasionally some overlap between Medicare and Medicaid. Technically speaking, both Medicare and Medicaid can be used to pay for senior care. How does this happen? Well, an elderly individual living in a senior community may qualify for (and use) Medicare. However, if they are also legally considered low-income, they could qualify for both programs. In this case, they become “dually eligible” and are fully within their rights to use both. When looking for a senior community, make sure you discuss insurance, payment options, financial situations, etc. with the facility to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Trying to Learn More About Paying for Senior Care?

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