Medicare and Medicaid are two separate, government-run programs that were created in 1965 in response to the inability of older and lower-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 social, economic, and 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 lower-income families. Medicare and Medicaid are different in several respects: they are run and funded by different parts of the government and primarily serve different groups.
- Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage if you are 65 and 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 (dually eligible individual), you can have both, and they will work together to provide you with health coverage at very low cost to you.
Also know that while Medicare and Medicaid are both health insurance programs administered by the government, there are differences in covered services and cost-sharing. Make sure to call 1-800-MEDICARE or contact your local Medicaid office to learn more about Medicare and Medicaid costs and coverage, especially if you are a dually eligible individual.