What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

Section I.a. Explaining Medicare
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Medicare and Medicaid are two different government-run programs that were created in 1965 in response to the inability of older and low-income Americans to buy private health insurance. They were part of President Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" vision of a general social commitment to meeting individual health care needs. Medicare and Medicaid are social insurance programs that allow the financial burdens of illness to be shared among healthy and sick individuals, and affluent and low-income families.

Medicaid is not the same as Medicare.

  • Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage if you are 65 or older or have a severe disability, no matter your income.
  • Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health coverage if you have a very low income.
  • If you are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligible), you can have both. Medicare and Medicaid will work together to provide you with very good health coverage.

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