The federal government provides medical coverage to Americans through two programs: Medicaid and Medicare. These programs, although both initiated by the federal government are different in many ways.
Medicaid covers medical expenses for low income individuals of any age. This includes those over 65 who may also be receiving Medicare. In this case, Medicaid can help pay for Medicare costs.
Medicaid, although a federal program, is run by individual states. To be eligible you must be below the income level set by your state. Because Medicaid is intended for poverty level people, coverage is very comprehensive. It can even cover some costs left over from Medicare such as prescriptions and eyeglasses. Medicaid recipients pay little or no co-pays for services received.
Medicare is medical insurance for Americans over the age of 65. This program was created by the federal government to help the elderly deal with the high cost of medical care at a time in their life when they use health services the most. You can apply for Medicare, which is federally administered, at your local social security office.
Medicare is withheld from your paycheck and for that reason you are eligible to receive it once you reach 65. Individuals who receive Social Security disability benefits, even if they are under age 65, may also receive Medicare.
There are four types of Medicare: Part A which is basic Medicare, part B which is a little more comprehensive, part C which can be a more costly supplement to part A and B and covers additional services, and part D for prescription drug coverage. Premiums and deductibles are necessary for Medicare depending upon which type you receive. Part A and Part B both require yearly deductibles as well as large copays for extensive treatment. You do not have to pay a monthly premium for Part A but you must for Parts B, C and D.
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