Medicare is the popular name for the federal health insurance program for persons 65 years of age and over. The program, which went into effect in 1966, was first administered by the Social Security Administration. In 1977 the Medicare program was transferred to the newly created Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA).
Medicare and Medicaid programs of medical care for the aged and for the needy are under the direction of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Benefits of Medicare are divided into two parts: (1) a basic hospital insurance plan covering hospital care, outpatient diagnostic services, extended care and home health services and (2) a voluntary medical insurance program covering physicians' fees, home health care and other services.
Costs are met by a special Social Security contribution and contributions from general revenue. Participants in the voluntary insurance program pay a small percentage each month, which 1s matched by the federal government.
Beginning in July 1973 Medicare was extended to persons under the age of 65 with certain disabling conditions. By 1980, more than 28 million people were enrolled in the Medicare program.
Medicaid, a federal state program, is usually operated by state welfare or health departments, within the guidelines issued by the HCFA. Medicaid furnishes at least five basic services to needy persons: in patient hospital care, out patient hospital care, physicians' services, skilled nursing home services for adults and laboratory and X ray services.
The people who are eligible for Medicaid include families and certain children who qualify for public assistance and may include aged, blind and disabled adults who are eligible for the Supplemental Security Income program of the Social Security Administration.
States may also include persons and families termed "medically needy" who meet eligibility requirements except those for financial assistance. Each state decides who is eligible for Medicaid benefits and what services shall be included.
Some of the benefits frequently provided are dental care, ambulance service and the cost of drugs, eyeglasses and hearing aids.
In determining eligibility for the Medicaid program, a state may not hold adult children responsibile for medical expenses of their parents.
Forty nine states (all but Arizona), the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands operate Medicaid plans.