Medicare is health insurance for seniors and Medicaid is health insurance for low-income individuals and families.
Medicare includes a premium, cost sharing, and includes supplemental private options, while Medicaid is a low-cost or free health insurance with no supplemental options.
Both Medicare and Medicaid have similar names, and both are public programs that were signed into law in 1965 by Lyndon Johnson under Title XIX of the Social Security Act.
It can be easy to confuse the two programs due to their similar sounding names, but each public program has a very different purpose and very different mechanics.
Medicare is a federal health insurance program that most people pay into while they are working and then become eligible for when they turn 65. The Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) premium is free for all seniors who qualify, the Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premium is relatively low cost with assistance based on income. Medicare is also available to people who have either end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and meet some other requirements.
Medicaid is a federal health insurance program for low income individuals and families that people qualify for based on income. In most cases Medicaid is free for those who qualify, but in some cases there can be small costs for Medicaid. Medicaid also includes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a program designed specifically for children and parents of young children.
FACT: Medicaid was expanded under the Affordable Care Act to cover more people in more states.
FACT: Despite being very different programs, people can be “dual-eligible” for both Medicaid and Medicare.