Medicaid is a health insurance program for individuals and families with low incomes and resources. It cost is shared by the states and federal government, and is managed by the states. Medicaid serves eligible low-income parents, children, seniors, and people with disabilities, and is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with limited income.
Even though the name sounds similar, Medicaid is substantially different from Medicare. Medicare is an entitlement program funded entirely at the federal level, while Medicaid is a social welfare program with both state and federal funding. Medicare is available to all based on age or disability, and Medicaid’s availability is based on financial need. It is possible to be enrolled in both (Dual Eligible).
Medicaid has been in the news quite a bit lately as it’s the source of the premium subsidies that are offered through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Many states have embraced the program as the federal government pays 90% or more of the cost, but there are a sizable number that limit or refuse to offer Medicaid for political reasons.
Many states have contracted insurance companies to administer Medicaid rather than having to handle bill processing themselves. It’s probably a good idea as it’s a complex process. And most states have their own names for their programs.