What Is The Difference Between Medicare, Medicaid & Medi-Cal?

Hi there, Bridget Mackay with the Law Offices of Bridget Mackay in Petaluma, California. I practice in the area of estate planning and elder law. And today I want to talk about the three M’s. I’m talking Medicare, Medicaid and Medi-Cal.

So, these terms are used a lot for seniors because they are the medical services that you receive once you reach age 65. But there is a ton of confusion around them. And unfortunately, the names are so close to each other, that people often interchange them and use them alternately when their very different programs.

I’m going to start with a few definitions to kind of clarify things for folks. The first is, what is Medicare? (Medicare) is probably the most common government benefit that seniors are able to take advantage of next to Social Security. What it is, is it’s the medical coverage for seniors over the age of 65. So, it covers doctor visits. It covers prescriptions. It covers hospital stays and to a certain extent it will cover some long-term care or some skilled nursing stay if you’re rehabilitating from a surgery. But it is the most common and you often get it when you’re 65. That means you stop having to pay private health coverage premiums. And it’s the most common program out there.

It is very different from Medicaid. So, M-E-D-I-C-A-I-D. Medicaid is a federal and state medical program for seniors that allows for payment if that person is age and disabled and they qualify, asset wise or financially, for this service. It’s a form of welfare.

You apply for Medicaid at the wealth your local county welfare office. And it will provide for the majority of the costs of a stay in a skilled nursing facility. It also provides for in-home care if you qualify. For in-home caregivers to come in if you have a long-term illness. And in some states, it will cover assisted living – not in California.

The final M, Medi-Cal. And that is California’s version of Medicaid. So again, it’s administered through the welfare department in your county. So that’s where you would apply. That’s you know, you would get assigned a social worker. And those are where the services would derive from. It is a different program in California as it’s different in every other state. In California the qualification requirements are different than any other state. If You’re Googling Medicaid and Medi-Cal, you’re going to get some mixed information. So, my recommendation is if any of you need Medicaid or Medi-Cal, you should contact an experienced attorney who works in this area. Because, the rules and regulations are very complicated, and it is risky to go it alone.

That is the difference between Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Cal. I might have confused you even more, I don’t know. But always, when push comes to shove and you need to get information. Don’t google it, give us a call.

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