What is the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid?

by admin on June 26, 2008

Medicare is a U.S. federally administered program for people over 65, people with disabilities and people with certain types of kidney disease – seems somewhat arbitrary; what about heart disease, or lung diseases? Medicaid is run by individual states and it is geared towards people with low incomes or with high medical bills. Eligibility is determined based on age, medical condition and family status.

There are a number of rules that govern each program, but one interesting distinction is that eligibility for Medicare is not dependent on income or assets, whereas eligabilty for Medicaid is dependent upon savings and assets, and in some cases, people are penalized if in order to qualify for Medicaid, they gave away money, or undersold assets. What I find concerning about Medicaid, is that payments made by Medicaid to a beneficiary can be recovered from the beneficiary’s estate after they die. So mom dies and she has been receiving Medicaid and she has a small sum of money from the sale of a home or other asset that she leaves to her children, but from it is deducted the cost of her care while she was sick. Talk about kicking a person when they are down!

I feel very fortunate to live in a country that has universal health care. The system has its problems to be sure, but at least, if I lose two fingers in some kind of freak accident, the hospital won’t force me to decide which one I want to keep and which one can be sacraficed because an HMO won’t pay for both.

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