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What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

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:

  • Pregnant women
  • 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'. The Medicare publication, "What Is Medicare/Medicaid?", provides additional information.

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