July 24, 2015

Medicare and Medicaid: keeping us healthy for 50 years

Medicare and Medicaid celebrate 50 years on July 30th!

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicaid and Medicare into law. Medicare and Medicaid began as basic insurance programs for Americans without health insurance. Over the years they have continued to evolve, becoming the standard bearers for quality and innovation providing even more Americans with quality and affordable care.

The Affordable Care Act has strengthened both programs.

  • Under the health care law, Medicare benefits have expanded. Things like free preventive benefits, certain cancer screenings, and an annual wellness visit are now covered. You can also save money if you’re in the prescription drug “donut hole” with discounts on brand-name prescription drugs.

  • The health care law also provides states with additional federal funding to expand their Medicaid programs. In states that choose to expand Medicaid, free or low-cost health coverage is available to all people with household incomes below a certain level.

Medicare and the Marketplace

Medicare provides health coverage for people 65 and older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease.

Here are a few things to know about Medicare and the Marketplace:

  • Medicare isn’t part of the Health Insurance Marketplace, so if you have Medicare coverage you don’t need to do anything. If you have Medicare, you’re considered covered.

  • If you’re under 65 and don’t have health coverage, you can enroll in a Marketplace plan. Once your Medicare coverage starts, you can end the Marketplace plan without penalty.

Get more information on Medicare and the Marketplace.

Medicaid and the Marketplace

When you fill out a Marketplace application, you’ll also learn if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

  • Medicaid and CHIP provide free or low-cost health coverage to millions of Americans, including some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Both programs are run jointly by federal and state governments.
  • You may qualify for these programs based on your household size, income, and other factors, like age and disability. You can enroll and apply any time of year.

  • Some states have expanded their Medicaid programs to cover all people with household incomes below a certain level. See if your state has expanded coverage and what this means for you.

  • Note: Even if your state hasn't expanded Medicaid, you should apply for coverage to see if you qualify.

Learn how to apply for Medicaid coverage.

Medicare and Medicaid make America healthier

Medicare and Medicaid save lives, help people live longer, and provide the peace of mind that comes with affordable health care.

If Medicare or Medicaid have improved your life or the life of someone you care about, share your story through Medicare.gov, Twitter, or the Medicare Facebook page.