As we age, which program is better – Medicaid or Medicare? In order to answer that question, we need to define each program. What does Medicaid do? What does Medicare mean?
Medicaid is a government sponsored assistance program that helps low income families and some individuals pay for their health care. The Medicaid program is state run, but funded half by the state and half by the federal government. The federal government may contribute less in a state that has a wealthier population. As a state run program, Medicaid’s eligibility guidelines vary state to state, as does the type of coverage. To be eligible for this program, you must have $1,000 or less in liquid assets. The amount of help you receive from Medicaid is based on a sliding scale. The more income an individual or a family has, the less Medicaid they will receive. Some states require beneficiaries to pay a co-payment or deductible to their health care provider for medical services provided, although in some states the co-pays can be as little as $30.00 per month.
Medicaid covers chronic conditions as well as long term care, and Medicaid covers a wider range of health care services than Medicare does. Medicaid pays for x-rays, pediatric care, hospitalization, clinic treatment, laboratory services, family planning, surgical and medical dental care, and in-home nursing facilities for those over 21 years of age. 60% of nursing home residents’ health care expenses are covered by Medicaid.
Medicare is a federally run and sponsored program. Unlike Medicaid where coverage can vary from state to state, all coverage under Medicare is uniform nationally. Eligibility for Medicare only requires that you be over 65 years of age and have paid taxes into the Social Security fund at some point in your life. Income does not factor into your eligibility for Medicare. People who are suffering from end stage renal disease or disabled individuals who are receiving or are eligible to receive Social Security benefits are also eligible for Medicare.
There are different divisions of the Medicare program: Parts A, B, and D. Part D covers prescription drugs, Part B covers medical insurance and Part A covers hospital care such as nursing facility stays, hospice care, respite care, and inpatient hospital stays. All of these are included under the acute care umbrella. It is important to note, however, that Medicare is not a long term care program, so it does not cover chronic conditions. Regardless of the type of Medicare that you receive, co-pays or deductibles for certain medical services may be required under Medicare and Medicare reserves the right to refuse to pay for medical treatments that it deems unnecessary.
So given all of that information, how do your health care needs compare to the services provided by Medicare and Medicaid? Making the decision between the two coverage options is not easy. You should always consult with health care professionals regarding your choice, and request as much information as possible from the government regarding each program to determine which is the most suitable for you.Read more