Medicare vs. Medicaid: Do You Know These Differences?

We all here a lot about Medicare and Medicaid. But how many of us know exactly what each of them is?

If you’re not sure (or just want to double check your facts!), this article is for you. We’re going to breakdown Medicare and Medicaid in a short, easy to understand format.

The names Medicare and Medicaid sound very similar. Which is part of the reason so many people get them confused. But in reality, they are two very different programs.

The thing they have in common is that both are a type medical insurance that can help you pay for health care and medical expenses. However, there are plenty of differences between the two.

For instance, Medicare is a health insurance program that is based on a beneficiary’s age. It is guaranteed to give coverage for individuals 65 years or older. Medicare is also available for younger people with disabilities.

On the other hand, we have Medicaid which is a public assistance program for Americans in need. Medicaid has no age requirements.

Let’s take a look at each – and their key aspects – so you can easily keep them straight.


As we just said, Medicaid is a public assistance program. It is available for Americans of all ages. In order to qualify for Medicaid assistance, however, you need to be “financially needy.”

If you qualify, you get low cost or free care through the program. Exactly who qualifies and how much assistance you get depends on what state you live in.

The program is paid for with public funds that are collected through taxes. It is made for low-income Americans who fall into one of the following groups.

Pregnant women

Pregnant women are eligible for Medicaid whether they are single or married. Both the mom and the child will be covered.

Disabled, blind, aged people

Yes, seniors can also apply for Medicaid if they cannot afford healthcare coverage. Those who are in need of medical assistance may still apply for Medicaid regardless of their age.

Low-income individuals

If you are not pregnant, or do not have children or disabilities, you can still apply for Medicaid if you have low monthly income. You can check with your state agency for more information about income thresholds.

Parent of a minor or a teenager living alone

For those teenagers living on their own, you can also apply for Medicaid. They also provide assistance for parents who have minor children.

What Medicaid Covers That Medicare Does Not

Medicaid also offers special considerations that Medicare does not. It provides for long-term Nursing Home Care. Additionally, Medicaid also offers Custodial Care, which helps the beneficiary with their daily needs and activities. This can include eating, dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom. This custodial care can either be in a skilled nursing facility or at home.

The application for Medicaid varies from state to state. The application can take anywhere from a few weeks to even a few months to finish.


Let’s move on to Medicare now. This government health insurance program is available to anyone who is 65 or older, entered the US lawfully and has lived in the United States for 5 years. It is also available for disabled people who are under the age of 65.

The program is based on your age and your needs. However, it is not based on financial need. There are four parts to Medicare – Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. The two main parts are Part A and B. Part A is hospital insurance and is “free” for most people (though you likely paid for it through payroll taxes). Part B is medical insurance and does have a monthly premium.

For more on these and the other parts of Medicare, check out our article on Medicare Basics here.

So there you have it. A short, easy to understand guide on Medicare vs. Medicaid. For more articles on these, and other senior topics, check out our resources here.