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Health Care Facts

Public Health Care Coverage

Medicare is a federally administered program that provides hospital and medical insurance protection to people aged 65 and older, disabled people under age 65 who receive cash benefits under Social Security or Railroad Retirement programs, and people of all ages with chronic kidney disease. Since 1973, aliens and some federal civil service employees and annuitants have been eligible to enroll by paying a monthly premium.

Medicare consists of two parts: Part A and Part B. Part A is compulsory hospital insurance (HI), financed by contributions from employees, employers, and participants. HI pays for hospital, nursing home, home health and hospice service. Part B is voluntary supplemental medical insurance (SMI), financed by payments from those who enroll in it. SMI covers physicians' services and a variety of other goods and services.
Medicare has been generally successful in assuring broad and equitable access to health care for the elderly. When the program began, the poor and non-white elderly received substantially less medical care than did the wealthier or white elderly. But, these disparities have been substantially reduced.

Medicaid eligibility is much more complex than Medicare. Medicaid is a welfare program, and every applicant must show that his/her income falls below certain levels set by states according to federal guidelines. Eligibility varies significantly among the 56 state and territorial Medicaid programs.

How does it Work?
Medicaid is administered by each state according to federal requirements and guidelines, and is financed from both state and federal funds. It provides medical assistance to people eligible for cash assistance programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). States have broad discretion in covering different groups under their Medicaid program. To be eligible for federal funds, the program must provide for individuals receiving federal aid.

Other Services
The government also provides health coverage to federal civilian employees, veterans and Native Americans.


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