There is much confusion over the difference between Medicaid and Medicare. Both programs were created in 1965 and provide health care benefits. Medicare provides health insurance to those over the age of 65 and Medicaid provides health benefits to low income individuals typically over the age of 65 but also to children and the disabled. In a number of instances, a person may be dual eligible and be covered under both programs. Even though the programs have similar names, they are vastly different.

Medicaid is a social welfare benefit that is administered jointly by the Federal and State governments. Although there are common issues throughout the states, each state runs their program differently. Medicaid is designed to cover long term care and provide a safety net for the aged and disabled population with limited resources. To qualify for the program, an individual must qualify financially and qualify due to ‘need.’ Depending on needs, Medicaid can cover in home care services.

Medicare is a Federal government administered insurance plan for individuals over the age of 65. Anyone over the age of 65 is automatically covered by Medicare and there is no need to qualify financially. Medicare covers medical expenses and is not intended to cover long term care needs. Medicare covers home health care, not home care. It is best to think of it similar to private health insurance, just administered by the Federal government.

Please print out the attached handout for easy reference.

Medicaid versus Medicare PDF Document