In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson, Illinois and Missouri Elder Law attorney, addresses a very common question and explains the basic difference between Medicare and Medicaid.
What is the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid?
Hi, I’m Wes Coulson and this is your Elder Law Minute. Today I want to address a very common question and that is: What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid? They were both passed into law in 1965 and Congress, God bless them, decided to give them two very confusingly similar names. I still to this day wish they hadn’t done that. But, here are the big differences.
Medicare is an insurance program for seniors, for people who have reached age 65. Once you reach that age, with very few exceptions you’re in, you get Medicare. Now, the kind of care that it pays for is health care, the kind of care that you would get in a doctors office or a hospital. What it doesn’t pay for is custodial care, the kind of care that you would get on a long-term basis in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. You don’t need to meet any kind of asset test to be eligible for Medicare. Once you’ve reached age 65, it doesn’t matter if you have 10 thousand or 10 million dollars, you’re eligible for Medicare.
Medicaid by contrast is not an insurance program rather a government assistance program. So, it is available only for people who meet financial requirements for eligibility. You can be of any age and be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid comes up a lot in our discussions for representing older clients because it is Medicaid and not Medicare that is the only one of the two that is available to pay for custodial care, like you would receive in a nursing home.
Now, one of the ways that that plays out is we don’t do nor does anyone need any sort of planning to become eligible for Medicare. They do need planning, however, to establish eligibility for Medicaid relative to the financial limitations. So, I hope that helps with your understanding. We’re here to answer you questions, give us a call. Thanks.
For more information Medicaid eligibility, visit these articles:
- 4 Myths About Medicare & Medicaid Long-Term Care Coverage
- Medicare, Medicare Supplement Insurance & Nursing Home Care
- Medical vs. Custodial Care: What’s the Difference and Why it Matters
- When it Comes to Long-Term Care – When You Run Out of Money, You Run Out of Options
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Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 or (314) 567-9292, or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.