Medicare and Medicaid

The federal government’s two big health care support programs, Medicare and Medicaid, have been in the news recently. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains the differences between these programs.

“Both of these are landmark programs. They were established by Congress, signed by the president in 1965. Medicare is the program that helps folks over age 65 pay for their medical bills — both medical bills for doctors, hospitals and recently prescription drugs were added to the list. … And this is not 100 percent payment. The program was never designed to do that. Recipients, clients, people participating in Medicare have co-pays. They have taxes to pay, et cetera. But it certainly does help, and it was a big change when that bill came into effect in 1965 as what was compared to prior.

“Medicaid is the program that helps people under certain income limits pay for their medical bills. So you can be any age, as well, as you qualify in terms of low income. Now actually a fair amount of Medicaid, about 25 percent, goes to the elderly, especially to pay for long-term care after that elderly person has exhausted his or her own resources.

“Now under the new healthcare bill, Medicaid is going to be expanded. Medicare is going to be subject to several new rules.”


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