Many people in Pennsylvania may find it difficult to distinguish between Medicare and Medicaid, given the similarity in their names and the fact that both programs relate to health coverage. Understanding the difference is important when planning for or reviewing one’s medical coverage needs.

As explained by MedicareInteractive.org, one of the biggest differences between Medicare and Medicaid is that the former does not require any income eligibility requirements to be met in order to qualify for coverage. Medicare is an insurance program administered by the federal government and its basic eligibility requirements are that a person is at least 65 years old or is disabled.

Medicaid, on the other hand, does not have an age requirement but, because it is welfare, does have income limits and asset requirements that must be met in order for a person to be eligible. While there are federal guidelines for Medicaid programs, each state runs its own Medicaid program. It is possible for a person to qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid together in some circumstances.

Medicaid.gov indicates that for a person who is blind, disabled or at least 65 years old, financial eligibility for Medicaid is akin to that used for the determination of Supplemental Security Income benefits. An applicant’s income and assets have to be low enough to qualify for Medicaid.  In addition, persons who have transferred any assets in the five years prior to applying for Medicaid should know that any transfers for less than fair market value may impact their Medicaid eligibility. It is important to check the Medicaid eligibility requirements before applying.