A. While Medicaid and Medicare sound similar, they are in fact very different programs. One of the biggest differences is Medicaid is a state governed program and Medicare is a federal governed program. Here are some other differences:
Medicaid is for low income:
- Children under the age of 19
- People 65 and over
- People who are blind
- People who are disabled
- People who need nursing home care
- Application for Medicaid is at the State’s Medicaid agency
Medicare is for:
- People 65 and over
- People of any age who have kidney failure or long term kidney disease
- People who are permanently disabled and cannot work
- Medicare is applied for at the local Social Security office
Some people qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare, Medicaid is sometimes used to help pay for Medicare premiums. People who qualify for both programs are called ‘dual eligible’.
A. Generally, Medicare is available for people age 65 or older, younger people with disabilities and people with End Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant). Medicare has two parts, Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). You are eligible for premium-free Part A if you are age 65 or older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. You can get Part A at age 65 without having to pay premiums if:
- You are receiving retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.
- You are eligible to receive Social Security or Railroad benefits but you have not yet filed for them.
- You or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.
If you (or your spouse) did not pay Medicare taxes while you worked, and you are age 65 or older and a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, you may be able to buy Part A. If you are under age 65, you can get Part A without having to pay premiums if:
- You have been entitled to Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for 24 months. (Note: If you have Lou Gehrig’s disease, your Medicare benefits begin the first month you get disability benefits.)
- You are a kidney dialysis or kidney transplant patient.
While most people do not have to pay a premium for Part A, everyone must pay for Part B if they want it. This monthly premium is deducted from your Social Security, Railroad Retirement, or Civil Service Retirement check. If you do not get any of these payments, Medicare sends you a bill for your Part B premium every 3 months.