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Medicare and Medicaid

Anyone who has ever been in an accident or dealt with a serious illness knows how expensive medical treatment can be. It probably comes as no surprise that many Americans are unable to afford the high cost of care. That's where Medicare and Medicaid come in. Both Medicare and Medicaid are federal health care assistance programs intended to help the most vulnerable individuals get access to medical services. While Medicare is available to senior citizens, Medicaid is intended for low-income Americans of any age. This section provides a number of articles on the key differences between the two programs, how to pick a Medicare managed care plan, the types of expenses covered by Medicaid, and more.

Medicare

Medicare was created to help older Americans and certain disabled individuals pay their medical bills. Most people age 65 or older are eligible for coverage based on their work history or that of their spouse. The program is paid for by the Social Security contributions you make while working.

Medicare has multiple levels of coverage -- the most popular being Part A and Part B. Part A is available to nearly all senior citizens. It covers "spells of illness" that require hospital care or treatment at a nursing facility. While you'll have to pay a deductible, nearly all other costs will be covered by Medicare for the first 60 days of treatment. After that, however, you'll be required to pay a coinsurance amount toward your hospital costs.

Part B, on the other hand, covers basic medical and preventative services, like diagnostic visits, clinical testing, ambulance fees, and certain types of outpatient care. Unlike Part A, however, Part B requires you to pay a monthly premium.

Medicaid

Medicaid differs from Medicare in a couple key ways. First, Medicaid is available to low-income Americans, regardless of age. Second, Medicaid is largely handled by the states, while Medicare is administered by the federal government.

Medicaid covers basic health care costs, like doctor's visits and hospital stays, but can also be used for other expenses, like the cost of eyeglasses. For certain services, however, you may be required to pay a small fee. If you're eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, you can often use Medicaid to pay for your Medicare deductible.