There is a very good chance that you will need help covering healthcare costs not covered by private insurance when you reach your retirement years. When you find yourself in that position, you will likely turn to Medicaid and/or Medicare for help. Contrary to what many people think, Medicaid and Medicare are not interchangeable. Although there are some similarities, there are also differences between Medicare and Medicaid. To help you understand the two programs, a Long Island elder law attorney at Eghrari Wealth Training Firm discusses the differences and similarities between Medicare and Medicaid.
What Is Medicare?
Medicare is essentially a federally governed healthcare program for individuals who are over age 65, and for a select few under age 65. Medicare is what is referred to as an “entitlement program” because participants are entitled to benefits from the program without having to prove need. Instead, you will have effectively paid all your “premiums” for Medicare through Medicare payroll withholding during your working years. People younger than 65 may also be eligible for Medicare if they:
- Have received at least 24 months of Social Security disability benefits or a disability pension from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB).
- Have permanent kidney failure and need routine dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Basic Medicare is cost-free; however, the benefits available under Medicare come in four parts. Some of those additional parts require payment of a monthly premium similar to private health insurance. The four parts of Medicare include:
- Part A – Hospital care – Covers the cost of being in a medical facility.
- Part B – Covers doctors, medical tests, and procedures. There is a monthly premium for Part B coverage.
- Part C – Medicare Advantage – Part C is an alternative to traditional Medicare coverage. Coverage often includes Parts A, B, and D. Medicare Advantage plans are administered by private insurance companies.
- Part D – Prescription drug coverage – D is administered by private insurance companies, and you are required to have it unless you have coverage from another source. Part D requires you to pay a monthly premium in most cases.
What Is Medicaid?
Medicaid is also a healthcare program that is predominantly funded by the federal government; however, individual states may supplement the funds provided by the federal government. In addition, Medicaid is administered by individual states and, as such, there may be slightly different eligibility guidelines and benefits offered from one state to the next. One major difference between Medicare and Medicaid is that Medicaid is a “needs-based” program, meaning that an applicant must demonstrate a financial need for the benefits offered by Medicaid.
Long-term Care Benefits under Medicaid and Medicare
One of the most important differences between the benefits provided by Medicaid and Medicare are benefits offered for long-term care (LTC). Medicare does not cover LTC expenses except under very limited circumstances, and even then, only for a very short period. Medicaid, on the other hand, will help pay for LTC expenses if you qualify for benefits. Qualifying for benefits, however, can be problematic for seniors who failed to plan and may put valuable assets at risk. It is for this reason that incorporating Medicaid planning into your estate plan prior to entering your retirement years is recommended.
Contact a Long Island Elder Law Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder law issues, contact the Long Island elder law attorneys at Eghrari Wealth Training Firm by calling us at 631-265-0599 to schedule your appointment.
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