Medicaid Medicare: What Is the Difference?

Don't confuse these two programs which sound alike. The health care programs Medicaid and Medicare are frequently confused by people who are unfamiliar with them. That's not surprising, given that Medicare and Medicaid are extremely complicated programs. This page offers links to more information about both programs.


Medicaid is an assistance program to pay medical bills for low income people. It is the largest health care program in the U.S., with over 59 million Americans enrolled. It serves patients of all ages, and they often pay nothing for covered services. There are some expenses which require a small co-payment.

Medicaid does not give coverage for all poor persons. People who want Medicaid help need to qualify, and low income is but one of the conditions for eligibility. Other eligibility requirements consider assets and resources such as bank accounts; in other words: Medicaid looks at a person's personal worth in addition to their income. Medicaid eligibility requirements vary from state to state. Each state sets the requirements for its own program, since Medicaid is run by state and local governments within Federal guidelines.

It depends on each state, but Medicaid may offer help with medical care for children, adults, and seniors in nursing homes or other long-term-care. In some cases, dental and eye care services are also included. It might also provide help for disabled persons of all ages.


Medicare is a health insurance program primarily for people over age 65. It also serves disabled people and dialysis patients. It is a federal program, and is pretty much the same in all states. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency of the federal government, runs the program.

The original version of Medicare had two parts: Medicare A, which helps pay for hospital expenses, skilled nursing, hospice, and home health care in certain conditions; and Medicare B, which helps with doctor expenses.

Unlike Medicaid, your state's role in Medicare is limited. There are state organizations which will help you with Medicare problems, and in choosing a Medicare insurance policy.

States help also with the consumer issues related to buying Medicare Insurance. This is often done under the office of the state insurance commissioner, but varies from state-to-state.

On this page:

Note: You will need the Adobe® Reader® software to open and read some of these publications.
Get it from Adobe®


More Articles and Web Pages About The Difference Between Medicaid and Medicare

 The Medicaid Project


Contact our editors for questions, corrections and/or linking. Please include your city/state/zip in your message: .
Our Privacy Statement. About Us     Site Map

ęCopyright 2011 Quickbrochures/Dibbern& Dibbern Ltd, except for content portions and data from outside resources. All rights reserved.



Bookmark and Share


Our Medicaid, Medicare & Health Insurance Projects: Home      
The Medicaid Project
a consumer's guide to Medicaid Information resources