Whether you are a senior in need of assistance with the high cost of healthcare or you have an elderly family member who needs assistance, both the Medicaid and Medicare program may be able to help. Understanding the basic differences between the two programs will help you decide whether either program might be able to help.
Both programs are funded by the federal government, but Medicaid is administered by the states.
The eligibility guidelines for Medicare are the same for everyone. Medicaid eligibility guidelines may vary somewhat by state.
Medicaid provides more benefits and covers more services than Medicare.
Medicare comes in more than one part. Part A covers hospital services, part B medical insurance and part D prescriptions.
Medicare requires a monthly premium. Medicaid does not require participants to pay a monthly premium; however, small co-payments may be required for selected services.
Medicare coverage is available to anyone over the age of 65 and to some people who are under the age of 65 if disabled. No income or asset limits apply to Medicare.
Medicaid has household income and asset limits. Limits will vary by state, but you will not qualify if your income and/or assets are over the limits.
Medicaid requires you to re-apply and re-qualify on a regular basis.
If you are concerned that your income or assets will prevent you from qualifying for the Medicaid program, but are in need of the coverage, talk to an estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Often, there are estate planning tools that can be used to structure your income and assets in a way that will allow you to qualify for the program. In any case, you may find ways to maximize the assets and income that you have to work with before Medicaid eligibility.