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Medicare: Medicare is a federal insurance program for people age 65 and older and certain disabled people. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) operates Medicare. The Medicare program consists of two parts, Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (supplemental medical insurance). Part A covers hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health and hospice care. Part B covers doctors’ services, outpatient hospital services, durable medical equipment and a number of other medical services and supplies. Medicare also provides limited coverage for preventive services. Medicare is not provided free of charge. Medicare requires cost sharing in the form of premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.

Medicaid: Medicaid is a program that helps pay for medically necessary medical services for needy and low-income persons. It uses state and federal government money. Medicaid is a major payer for health care services for the low-income families that lack health insurance, elderly people who need help with medical care, disabled elderly people who need long-term care, and non-elderly disabled persons who need acute and long-term care. The cost of state Medicaid programs is divided between the state and the federal governments and the proportions are based on each state’s per capita income relative to the rest of the nation.

A person may qualify and receive coverage from both Medicare and Medicaid, but there are separate eligibility requirements for each program and being eligible for one program does not necessarily mean being eligible for the other.

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