Medicare versus Medicaid for 65 and up

Medicare is for individuals 65 and over. Disabled individuals under 65 may qualify as well. Sign up for Medicare at your local Social Security Administration Office as you approach your 65th birthday. You qualify if you paid Medicare taxes on earnings when you worked. Medicare has four parts. Part A covers hospital care. Part B covers doctors, medical tests and procedures. Part C (also called Medicare Advantage) is an alternative to Parts A and B. Medicare Advantage Plans are administered by private insurance companies and provide broad, comprehensive coverage. Part D, also obtained from insurers, covers prescription medication.

Medicare A and B do not provide comprehensive health coverage. Contact a local health insurance agent to explore Medicare supplement (Medigap) options. These are standardized insurance policies distinguished by letters A - N. Benefits and coverages vary by letter.

Evaluate your health care needs and preferences. Compare the costs and benefits of Medicare plus Medigap with Medicare Advantage pricing and coverages. Verify participating providers in your area along with the insurance company's financial strength, complaint record and licensing status before buying a policy.

Low-income individuals of all ages can receive Medicaid health benefits if they meet state and federal rules. It is possible to receive both Medicare and Medicaid if income and financial assets qualify. The Department of Healthcare and family Services handles Medicaid in Illinois.