Medicare vs. Medicaid: What Is The Difference?

Medicare vs. Medicaid: What Is The Difference?

Navigating the healthcare maze in the U.S. can seem like solving a mysterious riddle. Two terms that often get intertwined and sometimes mistaken for each other are Medicare and Medicaid. They might sound similar, but each serves a unique health insurance purpose. 

Understanding these two giants is crucial whether you're approaching retirement age, seeking assistance due to income challenges, or just looking to demystify the healthcare world. Our latest piece, "Medicare vs. Medicaid: What Is The Difference?" will serve as your compass. It will guide you through both programs' distinctions, benefits, and eligibility criteria. 

So, before you embark on your next healthcare decision, let's dive deep and separate the myth from the reality. Buckle up for an enlightening journey through the corridors of Medicare and Medicaid!

Key Takeaways

  • Medicare is a government-run healthcare program primarily for individuals over 65, but it also covers some younger people with disabilities and specific diseases. It's divided into Parts A, B, C, and D, each offering distinct coverage areas.
  • Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides health coverage to people with limited income, encompassing various groups, from children to the elderly.
  • Dual enrollment allows beneficiaries to enjoy benefits from both Medicare and Medicaid, ensuring comprehensive coverage and reduced costs.
  • Medicare Advantage (Part C) is an alternative to traditional Medicare, often consolidating benefits and offering additional services at a potentially lower cost.
  • Understanding and choosing the right healthcare option requires thoroughly evaluating individual health needs, financial circumstances, and personal preferences.

What Is Medicare and How Does It Work?

What Is Medicare and How Does It Work?In the United States, Medicare is a government-run healthcare program. They are designed primarily for those over the age of 65. It does, however, encompass some younger persons with impairments and people with some medical issues, such as end-stage renal illness. 

The program is broken into sections: Part A covers hospital and inpatient services, Part B covers outpatient and physician services, and Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, combines the features of Parts A and B and may include the following: additional benefits. Part D covers prescription drugs.

Even though Medicare provides complete coverage, beneficiaries must often pay premiums, deductibles, and copayments based on the exact services and type of coverage they select.

Eligibility for Medicare

Medicare eligibility is determined by age, with most people eligible at 65. There are, however, exceptions. Younger people with disabilities who have received Social Security payments (SSDI) for at least 24 months may be eligible. 

Furthermore, patients of any age with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure needing dialysis or transplantation) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, popularly known as Lou Gehrig's disease) are eligible. It is vital to note that the United States typically demands at least five years of continuous citizenship or permanent residency.

Medicare Coverage in Parts A, B, C and D

Medicare Coverage in Parts A, B, C and D

Medicare's diverse coverage is segmented into Parts A, B, C, and D. Understanding the difference between Medicare Parts A and B is crucial. Part A focuses on hospitalizations, skilled nursing care, hospice care, and home health care. In contrast, Part B provides outpatient, medical treatment, preventative, and medical care. 

Part C, often known as Medicare Advantage, combines the benefits of Parts A and B, and sometimes D, into a private insurance company-provided plan, sometimes with additional benefits. Part D is entirely concerned with providing prescription drug coverage. 

It's important not to confuse Medicare with Medicaid, for instance, while Medicare Part A covers hospital services for eligible seniors. Medicaid is a separate program aiding low-income individuals across various medical needs.

How to Apply for Medicare?

Applying for Medicare is a straightforward process. It can be of three ways, all of which are defined below: 

  • Online: The most convenient method for many is applying online via the Social Security website at The online application takes less than 10 minutes for most people and requires no physical paperwork.
  • In-Person: You must visit your local Social Security office for an in-person application. It's wise to make an appointment in advance to minimize waiting times.
  • Over the Phone: Call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

What Is Medicaid and How Does It Work?

What Is Medicaid and How Does It Work?

Medicaid is a joint federal and state initiative designed to offer health coverage to individuals with limited income. This includes persons with low incomes, children, pregnant women, the

elderly, and impaired people. Even though all Medicaid systems must adhere to federal requirements, there are variances between states.

The pros of Medicaid are manifold. Healthcare services are typically provided at low or no cost, ensuring clients can afford them. Insurance coverage is frequently thorough, and routine long-term care appointments are included. When discussing the best Medicaid, it's subjective. Some might point to states with expanded coverage due to the Affordable Care Act or states that go beyond the minimum federal requirements regarding the services offered. 

The best state for Medicaid can vary based on personal needs and priorities. However, some states are known for their broader eligibility criteria and additional benefits. In essence, Medicaid is a lifeline for many, granting access to essential healthcare services.

Eligibility for Medicaid

Medicaid is a health insurance program designed for individuals with limited income. Eligibility for Medicaid depends on several factors, including income, household size, disability, family status, and other criteria that vary from state to state. 

One significant Medicaid advantage is that it often provides comprehensive coverage at low or no cost to beneficiaries, making healthcare accessible to many who otherwise might not afford it. Additionally, some individuals are simultaneously eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, often called "dual eligibles." 

These people are often elderly or disabled people who fit the financial requirements for both programs. If you qualify for both, you will be able to receive a broader selection of health benefits as well as financial protection. 

While Medicare essentially serves the elderly, Medicaid serves a broader population, including children, pregnant women, and low-income adults. It is critical to contact your state's Medicaid agency to learn about precise eligibility requirements and available benefits.

Medicaid Coverage

Medicaid Coverage

Medicaid is a comprehensive health coverage program, but it's important to note that, unlike Medicare, Medicaid does not typically use "Part A" or similar designations. When people refer to "Medicare Part A," they discuss hospital insurance under the Medicare program. It covers inpatient hospital stays, nursing facility care, and home health care. 

Medicaid Part A, on the other hand, is not a common word. Medicaid coverage varies by state, but it often covers hospitalization, physician services, long-term care, pregnancy and maternity care, and other services. Determining what is covered by each state's Medicaid programs is critical.

How to Apply for Medicaid?

To apply for Medicaid, follow these general steps:

  • Determine Eligibility: Before applying, check your state's Medicaid eligibility criteria. This can usually be found on your state's Medicaid website.
  • Application Process: Visit the official website of your state's Medicaid program. Many states offer online application portals. Alternatively, you can apply in person at the local Department of Human Services or Social Services offices.
  • Required Documentation: Gather necessary documents, such as proof of income, proof of residency, and identification.
  • Application Review: Once submitted, your application will be reviewed. You'll receive a notice of determination.

Stay Updated: Ensure you respond promptly to any requests for additional information to avoid delays.


Major Difference between Medicare and Medicaid





EligibilityPrimarily For individuals aged 65 and olderincome and other factors for eligibility
CoverageOffers coverage for hospital staysProvides comprehensive coverage
CostsBeneficiaries may incur out-of-pocket costsAims to be affordable for low-income individuals
When benefits startFunded through payroll taxes, premiums, and federal general revenues.jointly funded by federal and state governments, with flexibility for states in program design.

Questions about Medicare and Medicaid


What is the highest income to qualify for Medicaid?

The pay edge for Medicaid qualification shifts by state, making it trying to give a widespread figure. By and large, Medicaid is intended for low-pay people and families. Qualification considers factors past pay, such as family size, costs, and explicit conditions, varying from one state to another.

What does Medicare provide?

Federal medical care gives well-being inclusion to people aged 65 and more established and those with qualifying incapacities. It envelops different parts, offering inclusion for clinic stays (Section A), short-term care and clinical benefits (Part B), and physician-recommended drugs (Part D). Supplemental plans (Part C) can improve inclusion, guaranteeing far-reaching medical services benefits.

What is the main difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

The primary contrast between federal medical care and Medicaid lies in their objective populations and subsidizing. Federal health care serves seniors and those with disabilities, subsidized through finance charges. Conversely, Medicaid takes exceptional care of low-pay people and families, mutually subsidized by bureaucratic and state legislatures, guaranteeing access to medical services for different socioeconomic groups.

What state has the highest income limit for Medicaid?

Washington, DC, has a higher allowable income to qualify for Medicaid, at 215% of FPL for individuals and 221% for a family of three. This means an individual in Washington, D.C., can earn up to $31,347 annually and qualify for Medicaid.

Why do some people have both Medicare and Medicaid?

A few people have Medicare health care and Medicaid, a status known as double qualification, because of changing qualification standards. While Government health care covers seniors and certain impaired people, Medicaid targets low-pay populaces. Double qualification frequently emerges from monetary need, as Medicaid helps with costs not covered by Government medical care. Federal medical insurance Investment funds Projects (MSPs) further work with this by assisting with charges and costs. Medicaid's lengthy inclusion, including extended haul care, likewise addresses holes in Federal medical insurance administrations. This double status guarantees complete medical services access for restricted access, offering a well-being net that consolidates the qualities of both government-supported programs.

Medicaid vs. Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage: A Cost Analysis



Medicaid vs. Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage: A Cost Analysis

The U.S. healthcare landscape presents multiple options for individuals, with Medicaid, Original Medicare, and Medicare Advantage being prominent choices. A quick cost analysis reveals critical distinctions. Both programs can be used simultaneously for those eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. A state and federal program, Medicaid assists low-income individuals, often covering expenses like premiums and out-of-pocket costs. 

When considering Medicaid vs. Medicare, Medicaid might cover services not included in Medicare, such as long-term care. Original Medicare, comprised of Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance), usually involves premiums for Part B, and beneficiaries might have deductibles and co-payments. 

In contrast, Medicare Advantage (Part C) is provided by private insurers and often combines the benefits of Parts A, B, and sometimes D. It might have lower or different out-of-pocket costs than Original Medicare but can come with network restrictions. The core difference between Medicaid and Medicare centers is eligibility and coverage. 

Medicaid primarily aids the financially needy regardless of age, while Medicare mainly serves those 65 and older or those with specific disabilities. In choosing Medicaid or Medicare, or the specific Medicare type, one should assess their financial situation, health needs, and desired flexibility in healthcare choices.

Dual Enrollment: Having Both Medicare and Medicaid

Dual Enrollment: Having Both Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare and Medicaid dual enrollment refers to the situation where an individual is eligible for both of these government-sponsored healthcare programs. This unique status, often called "dual eligibility," offers a range of benefits and considerations.

Benefits of Medicare and Medicaid dual coverage:

  • Comprehensive Coverage:
    Because Medicare covers hospital and nursing care services, dual insureds often have more comprehensive health insurance coverage because Medicaid may cover additional services such as long-term care.
  • Cost Savings:
    Medicaid can help cover Medicare premiums, deductibles, and copayments, reducing out-of-pocket costs for those who are dual-eligible.
  • Access to a Wider Network:
    When paired with Medicaid's expanded coverage, Medicare's massive network of providers can provide a broader choice of healthcare services.

However, there are also pros and cons of Medicare and Medicaid dual enrollment:


  • Dual enrollees benefit from a more comprehensive range of services.
  • Medicaid can help alleviate the financial burden of Medicare-related expenses.
  • Depending on their healthcare needs, dual eligibles can use Medicare, Medicaid, or both for various services.


  • Navigating the rules and requirements of both programs can be challenging.
  • Ensuring seamless coordination between Medicare and Medicaid can sometimes lead to administrative hurdles.
  • Some providers may not accept both Medicare and Medicaid, potentially limiting options.

Deciding on the Best Healthcare Insurance for You

Deciding on the Best Healthcare Insurance for You

Navigating the healthcare insurance landscape can be daunting, especially given the many options available. At Senior Medicare Services, we understand our mature audience's unique needs and concerns. When deciding on the best healthcare insurance, start by assessing your current health status, frequency of doctor visits, and any prescriptions you might be on. 

Understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, the services covered, and potential out-of-pocket costs. Consider alternative policies that can supplement Medicare coverage. Evaluating your budget's restrictions is critical so you stay within the budget. 

Read reviews, ask for suggestions, and, most importantly, think about contacting medical specialists. They can supply information targeted to your individual needs. Remember that the ideal plan should cover your present health demands while anticipating future needs as you age. Make an educated choice for your safety and best healthcare.

You may also like our guide on Best Health Insurance Plans for Seniors.

Find Out Additional Support Services

Find Out Additional Support Services

Senior Medicare Services recognizes that healthcare extends beyond primary medical coverage. Additional support services can significantly impact your overall well-being and peace of mind. To access these services,  please visit our website, "Medicare Senior Services," which contains a wealth of resources and guides designed exclusively for seniors. 

You can also contact our specialized customer support staff, who can connect you with professionals or community initiatives. Learn about other insurance alternatives for vision, dental, or hearing aids. Consider availing of any of our services to ensure your health needs as you age and obtain thorough care and assistance.

Contact us now to avail yourself of the best Medicare Services!
Contact us


What are the main differences between Medicare and Medicare Advantage?

Medicare is the government's health insurance program for seniors and some disabled individuals in the United States, and it consists mainly of Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical care). Medicare Advantage (Part C) is a private company-provided alternative to standard Medicare that incorporates Parts A and B and sometimes includes Part D (prescription medicines) and extra benefits such as vision and dental care. Differences include network constraints, pricing, and other benefits.

What are the differences between the four parts of Medicare?

Part A of Medicare includes hospitalization, skilled nursing, and hospice care. Part B addresses outpatient treatment, such as doctor visits and preventive care. Part C, sometimes known as Medicare Advantage, is a private insurance alternative that combines Parts A and B, frequently with the addition of Part D (prescription medicines) and other benefits. Part D solely covers prescription medicines.

Why do some people have both Medicare and Medicaid?

Some persons qualify for Medicare and Medicaid due to age, disability, or poor income. Medicare essentially serves older people and those with disabilities, whereas Medicaid serves people experiencing poverty. They can work together to deliver comprehensive healthcare, reduce out-of-pocket expenditures, and assure greater access to medical services.

Why do people choose Medicare Advantage over Medicare?

People prefer Medicare Advantage to conventional Medicare because it frequently combines Parts A, B, and D into a single plan, provides additional benefits such as vision, dentistry, and health programs, has lower out-of-pocket payments, and caps yearly out-of-pocket costs. However, your provider options may be limited to specific networks.

Why is Medicare Advantage cheaper?

Medicare Advantage plans are frequently less expensive because they receive government payments to provide all Medicare services, operate in managed care structures such as HMOs or PPOs that can negotiate prices and control costs, and may have narrower provider networks, limiting choice but lowering costs. Others also use care management approaches.

Is Medicare better than private insurance?

Individual needs determine whether Medicare is superior to private insurance. Medicare is a government program primarily intended for the elderly and disabled, frequently providing more complete coverage at a lesser cost. Private insurance, which is more widely available, can provide more significant planning, flexibility, and network possibilities. Personal health needs, expenses, and preferences determine the best option.