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Medicare and Medicaid: How they work together

Written by Diane Archer

If you have Medicare and Medicaid… What does each cover? Who does it cover? It’s important to know how they work together.

Medicare is the federal program to help older adults (65 years and older) and people with disabilities pay for medical care. Because Medicare typically covers about half of a person’s health care costs, people with Medicare generally have extra coverage that fills the gaps.  People get this extra coverage from a former job, or they buy it from a health insurer or get it through Medicaid.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program.
Only people with low incomes can have Medicaid. Medicaid can cover dental, vision, and hearing and long-term care services that Medicare does not cover. People with both Medicare and Medicaid, sometimes called “dual eligibles” have lower incomes and fewer assets than people who do not qualify for Medicaid. More than 85 percent of them have annual incomes below about $16,500.

People with Medicare and Medicaid—almost one in five people with Medicare–have greater health care needs than the general Medicare population. They are more likely to have chronic illnesses as well as cognitive and functional impairments. They also tend to need more hospital and long-term care.

To read the full Kaiser Family Foundation articles: Click here and here.

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