What is Medicaid?
Medicaid is of the largest government healthcare programs specifically targeted for people with low income and limited resources. Created by the Social Security Amendments of 1965, Medicaid services 60 million Americans, including the elderly, children, pregnant women, and individuals with disabilities. For most seniors who do not have the means, it is Medicaid that provides for a significant chunk of nursing home care and long-term home care.
Because this is a joint program administered by both the Federal and each state government, a lot of confusion surrounds this program. In this report, we will look at the important components of Medicaid, especially eligibility where most of the misunderstanding comes from.
The framework of rules for Medicaid is set forth by the Federal government which also provides part of the funding for the program. The states that participate may craft their own version of the program and administer it. They may also set forth their own rules for as long as these are within the bounds of the Federal policies. Although state participation is voluntary, all the 50 states have Medicaid.
These programs may not necessarily be called Medicaid in the state where you live. For instance, Medicaid is administered in California as Medi-Cal; in Massachusetts as MassHealth; in Oregon under the Oregon Health Plan; in Oklahoma as Soonercare; and Tennessee as TennCare.
Medicaid may be better understood if you compare it with Medicare. Medicare is a social insurance program that gives services mainly to those who are 65 years old and older. Those younger than 65 may qualify for Medicare benefits for as long as they have certain disabilities. People of all ages may also be given Medicare benefits if they have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Medicare is funded entirely by the Federal government.
Medicaid, meanwhile, is not social insurance but a means-tested, needs-based social welfare program. Thus, eligibility is largely determined by income. More health services are covered by Medicaid compared to that of Medicare. As stated above, Medicaid is a joint program funded by both the Federal government and the state where it is offered.