Medicare vs Medicaid: What you NEED to know

There are many things to think about as we get older, and health care may be one of the most important things. Having affordable access to doctors, any specialists you may need to see, medications, and other healthcare services is crucial, and it’s best to know your options about how to access them. Medicare and Medicaid are two major American healthcare systems that people often get mixed up, but they’re quite different, and here’s how.


Medicare is a government-run medical insurance program for American citizens of all income levels who are 65+ years old. For older adults there are certain work history requirements that must be met in order to qualify for Medicare, while people of all ages with certain disabilities may also be qualified. 

Medicare coverage is made up of several parts:

  • Hospitalization coverage. As we get older we’re more susceptible to falls, injuries, and certain illnesses. Hospitalization coverage can also include assisted living facilities and other types of care homes. 
  • Medical insurance. Things like routine doctor visits and preventative care, and other outpatient visits are covered by medical insurance. 
  • Prescription medications.
  • Medicare Advantage plans. These plans consist of additional services purchased as supplemental parts of your existing coverage, and they’re often a combination of hospitalization coverage, medical insurance, and prescription medications.


Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is only for people who are below a certain income level. Medicaid is for people of all ages and it covers both routine medical care and long term care, including assisted living facilities. Run by both federal and state governments, Medicaid has strict guidelines and you must provide extensive documentation about their income and financial resources when submitting an application. 

Health care guidance from elder law attorneys 

Planning for your health care may feel overwhelming and confusing, especially when you aren’t clear about your options. In addition to enrolling in Medicare or Medicaid, there are other legal documents you should have in place as you get older, such as Health Care Proxy, that give your family clear instructions on what to do in case you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. An elder law attorney can help you determine your eligibility for either Medicare or Medicaid and can support you through the often-complex application process. They can also help you get all the recommended documents in order to secure your future.

At SCC Legal we specialize in many areas of elder law, including Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, Medical Directive, and more. For more information about how we can help, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey have chosen us as their trusted elder law attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

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