What Are Medicare and Medicaid?

The U. S. government offers several health insurance programs. Most people have heard of Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare is a federal program available to people older than 65 and some people with disabilities. For more information, visit http://www.medicare.gov. Some people on Medicare may require supplemental insurance, also known as Medigap, to help cover costs that Medicare doesn’t, such as copayments. For more information on Medigap coverage, see this document.

Medicaid is administered by the federal government in conjunction with state governments and is available to certain low-income individuals and families who fit into an eligibility group recognized by federal and state law. Benefits and eligibility vary from state to state. For more information, visit this Medicaid general information site or call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636).

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a state and federal program that targets uninsured children and pregnant women in families with incomes too high to qualify for most state Medicaid programs, but too low to afford private coverage.

AARP, a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization for those over 50 years old, offers information about Medicare

The Medicare Rights Center is a national, non-for-profit organization working to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and those with disabilities. More information about Medicare is available here.

Legal Services Corporation is the single largest provider of civil legal aid for the poor. It is a nonprofit that can assist low income families with completing forms for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (for the disabled) and Children's Health Insurance. A legal aid program near you can be found with this state by state service locator.

Resources reviewed February 2013

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What Are Medicare and Medicaid?
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