Medicare and Medicaid are programs that have been developed to assist Americans in attainment of quality health care. Both programs were established in 1965 and are federally supported to provide health care coverage to vulnerable populations such as the elderly, the disabled, and people with low incomes. Both Medicare and Medicaid are federally mandated and determine coverage under each program; both are run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency ("What is Medicare? What is Medicaid?” 2008).
Distinguishing between Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare is a federally governed insurance program, primarily serving Americans over the age of 65, younger disabled meeting specific disability criteria, and dialysis patients having permanent kidney failure. Medicare is linked to Social Security, is not income based, and is available to every American meeting the requirements of the program. Those entitled to Medicare can select Original Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) paying co-insurance and deductibles or opt to add Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) paying a monthly premium and co-payments normally less than the out-of-pocket expenses for Original Medicare.
Medicaid is an assistance program for low-income people regardless of age. A federally mandated program, Medicaid is run by state and local governments under the established federal guidelines. Income and resource levels are the primary means for each state to determine eligibility with the level varying from state to state. Eligibility is also affected by other factors such as age, whether you are pregnant, if you are blind or have other disabilities, and U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status. Some states require small co-payments for specific medical services from Medicaid recipients. The majority of health care costs will be covered for people qualifying for both Medicare and Medicaid.
The Evolution of Medicare based on the Needs of Society
Since its establishment in 1965 we have seen Medicare change as people’s needs change however being a federal program these changes do have an incredible amount of lag time. One of the first major changes to Medicare occurred in 1972 when President Nixon signed the Social Security Amendments of 1972 which extended coverage to individuals under age 65 with long-term disabilities, expanded benefits to include some chiropractic services and speech and physical therapy. During this time we see the American public growing tired of the Vietnam Conflict and lack of support and care for those returning Marines and soldiers with severe disabilities. As the protests escalate and the peace initiatives fail a key piece of legislation is signed showing government support and a willingness to extend health care benefits to this growing and vocal population of veterans (The Vietnam War, 1999). Also included in this Amendment is the encouragement of the use of Health Maintenance Organizations,...