The Differences Between Medicare and Medicaid for Seniors

Talking about the medicare & medicaid differences

Understanding How Medicare and Medicaid Impact Healthcare for the Elderly


The cost of senior healthcare can quickly stretch budgets, but knowing that financial help is available can offer some comfort. Two of the most commonly used programs are Medicare and Medicaid, and both offer financial assistance that allows seniors to maintain good health as they age. 


Medicare for the elderly

The Medicare program was created by the U.S. government to provide health insurance to retired Americans. Individuals can enroll in Parts A and B when they turn 65 and disabled people under age 65 can enroll at any age.


Disadvantages of Medicare

Seniors shouldn’t depend on Medicare for all of their healthcare needs because it’s primarily meant for short-term care. Medicare does not pay for all types of senior care, including:


  • Assisted living
  • Residential care homes
  • Long-term nursing home care
  • Any other type of long-term care


Medicare supplemental health insurance, often called medigap insurance, is also available to cover expenses not eligible for reimbursement. Plans vary and interested families should contact a health insurance provider or broker to learn more.


Medicaid for the elderly

Medicaid is a federal and state-funded social safety net for elderly and disabled people who can’t afford their medical expenses. Typically, Medicaid requires nearly all of the enrollee’s assets and income to go toward medical care. The enrollee must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and reside in the state where they are receiving benefits. 


There are several key differences from Medicare, including the eligibility requirements, which are based on income and assets rather than age. Medicaid also covers most types of healthcare costs, including long-term nursing home care. Many states allow residents to use Medicaid for assisted living and in-home care.


Colorado’s Medicaid program is called Health First Colorado. Learn more, confirm eligibility, and apply directly on their website.


How to afford senior living and healthcare

Each family’s financial situation is different and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan that will work for every senior. You’ll need to spend time researching options, and these resources will help you get started:



Making the right financial decisions about healthcare can feel overwhelming, which is why we encourage families to reach out to local senior living experts to learn about available resources. Denver families can contact The Argyle at 303-217-4146 with any questions about senior living. 


Please note that The Argyle does not provide professional medical or financial consultation. Due to the complexity and individualized nature of senior healthcare, you should always consult with appropriate professionals for the most definitive guidance on Medicare and Medicaid.


As a local nonprofit, The Argyle has brought high quality and affordable care to Denver’s seniors since 1874. To this day, our caring team remains committed to encouraging independence and preserving the dignity of every resident who calls our community home.

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