When looking at your healthcare options as you age, it is important to understand the different government programs that may assist you. Two of the most important healthcare-related programs in the US are Medicaid and Medicare.
While Medicare and Medicaid have some similarities, understanding the difference between them is paramount so you may maximize your care. As per the US Department of Health and Human Services, Medicaid is an assistance program, while Medicare is an insurance program.
This program works with low-income individuals of all ages. In general, persons on Medicaid pay no costs for most medical expenses, though in some cases Medicaid may require a copay. Medicaid is both a federal- and a state-run program, and the specifics of Medicaid differ depending on the state. What may make you eligible for Medicaid in one state may render you ineligible in another.
This program serves persons over the age of 65 in most cases, with a few exceptions. Medicare serves all Americans regardless of their income level. Persons under the age of 65 may have eligibility for Medicare if they are on dialysis or are able to prove a level of disability.
Most Medicare recipients pay some of their own healthcare costs, through deductibles. It is somewhat-similar to private insurance in this way. Medicare is also run by the federal government, and works in the same manner no matter what state you reside in.
When you are planning for your retirement, your assets and income level matter. In most cases, higher-income persons should apply for Medicare. Lower-income persons may have eligibility for both.