Defining Medicare and Medicaid

Re-posting information which helps in defining differences between Medicare and Medicaid….

Many people are confused about the difference between Medicare and Medicaid (MassHealth is the label in Massachusetts) as it pertains to the challenge of paying for expensive long-term care. This is not surprising. The two programs sound similar and both provide for medical care.

Medicare is an entitlement program. Older Americans, or everyone who reaches the age of 65 and is eligible to receive benefits from Social Security, can also receive Medicare.

MassHealth, on the other hand, is a public assistance program. It is designed to help people with limited income and assets pay for medical care. Recipients of MassHealth assistance must meet certain income and asset guidelines. It is not dependent on reaching a certain age bracket, nor eligibility for Social Security.

Another fundamental difference between the two programs is that Medicare is run entirely by the federal government.

MassHealth, on the other hand, is a joint federal-state program. Every state has its own MassHealth system, which helps explain why eligibility rules differ from one state to the next and why a few states use different names for MassHealth, such as Medi-Cal in California and MassHealth in Massachusetts. Whatever a state’s program is called, to receive money from the federal government it must adhere to federal guidelines. Typically, the federal government pays for approximately one half of a state’s program, with the state itself paying for the rest.

JD Miller

About JD Miller

John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. Phone: (781) 378-2164 Email: Website:

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