Medicare Savings Program vs Medicaid

If you’re trying to discern between the “Medicare Savings Program vs Medicaid,” you’re not alone. These two programs often intertwine yet cater to distinct healthcare financial needs. The Medicare Savings Program assists with costs specifically tied to Medicare, while Medicaid offers a full range of healthcare support.

This guide compares these crucial programs, emphasizing the eligibility criteria and scope of coverage to help you understand which you may qualify for.


Key Takeaways


  • Eligibility for MSPs and Medicaid is income and asset-based with state-specific criteria, and it’s crucial to understand these to determine qualification for program assistance, with income often benchmarked to the Federal Poverty Level.


  • MSPs and Medicaid can work in concert to provide extensive healthcare coverage, with MSPs focusing on Medicare-related expenses such as premiums and copays, and Medicaid covering a wider range of health services including long-term care.

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Demystifying Medicare Savings Programs and Medicaid

Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) are benefit initiatives designed to alleviate Medicare costs for individuals with limited financial resources. They provide assistance with Medicare premiums and in some instances, cost sharing, aimed at boosting enrollment and easing financial strain on beneficiaries.

On the other hand, Medicaid offers a wider array of healthcare services and support. It works in tandem with Medicare Savings Programs MSPs to provide comprehensive coverage, especially when individuals turn 65 and become Medicare eligible.

Demystifying Medicare Savings Programs and Medicaid

Eligibility for these programs hinges on a few factors. For MSPs, full or partial Medicaid beneficiaries with restricted incomes may qualify. A good grasp of these programs is beneficial, as they can notably lessen healthcare costs for qualifying individuals.


Navigating Eligibility Criteria: MSP vs. Medicaid

Eligibility for MSPs and Medicaid is determined by income and financial resources. Each state establishes its own income and asset limits, leading to eligibility variations across different states. Comprehending these criteria is key to determining eligibility for the most suitable program.


Income Considerations for Eligibility

Income eligibility for MSPs and Medicaid is based on Federal Poverty Guidelines, and these limits can vary from state to state. For instance, MSPs are designed to cover Medicare premiums and some out-of-pocket costs for eligible individuals with income below the federal poverty level. Individuals with limited income below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) qualify for Medicaid.

The income limits for these programs are typically released in January or February, with an effective date of January 1. Hence, individuals should assess their state’s unique criteria to ascertain their eligibility for these programs.


Resource and Asset Evaluations

To determine eligibility for MSP, states assess resources and assets such as savings and investments. Certain items like the individual’s primary residence, one vehicle, burial plots, and life insurance with a cash value under $1,500 are not considered. MSPs help cover hospital insurance (Medicare Part A) and medical insurance (Medicare Part B) premiums for eligible individuals.

The resource threshold for Medicare Savings Programs varies by state, taking into account state-specific income and asset limits.


65For Medicaid eligibility, assets and resources are evaluated through the Asset Verification System, with certain assets being excluded from the calculation.

For instance, an individual who is 65 years of age or older is generally allowed to retain up to $2,000 in countable assets as a single applicant.

Coverage Scope: What MSPs and Medicaid Pay For

The MSPs are designed to provide relief by covering Medicare premiums and Medicare cost sharing expenses for beneficiaries who meet the eligibility criteria. This includes coverage for:


  • Medicare Part A and Part B premiums
  • Deductibles
  • Coinsurance
  • Copayments


Fundamentally, MSPs serve a significant function in handling personal Medicare expenses.


What is medicare savings program



On the other hand, Medicaid provides a wider range of healthcare services, including:


  • inpatient and outpatient hospital services
  • physician services
  • home health services
  • long-term care including nursing home care


Together, MSPs and Medicaid offer a safety net of healthcare coverage for low-income individuals.

Types of Medicare Savings Programs

There are three distinct Medicare Savings Programs designed to aid low-income individuals in managing their Medicare expenses: the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program, the Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program, and the Qualifying Individual (QI) Program.


Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program

The QMB Program provides coverage for the following:


  • Medicare Part A premiums
  • Medicare Part B premiums
  • Deductibles
  • Coinsurance
  • Copayments


To be eligible for the QMB Program, an individual must have a monthly income limit of $1,060, while a married couple must have a monthly income limit of $1,430.

To avail of services under the QMB Program, individuals must present their Medicare and Medicaid card (or QMB card) at each care visit. The application process for the QMB program can start by reaching out to the state Medicare Program or by completing an application form.


Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program

The SLMB Program helps in covering Part B premiums exclusively. To be eligible, individuals must meet the requirements for or be already enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B, and their income and assets must fall below specific thresholds.

The SLMB Program is advantageous as it provides coverage for monthly Medicare Part B premiums, thus ensuring that eligible enrollees have their Part B costs paid for. This can provide significant relief for those who are struggling to manage their healthcare costs.


What is the income limit for the medicare savings program 2024



Qualifying Individual (QI) Program

The QI Program is structured to aid in covering Medicare Part B premium costs. If you meet the eligibility criteria for the QI Program, you are eligible to receive assistance in covering Medicare Part B premiums.

Nonetheless, individuals who already qualify for Medicaid cannot receive QI benefits. Additionally, to qualify for QI, an individual’s monthly income should not surpass $1,426, and a married couple’s monthly income should not exceed $1,923.

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How Medicaid Complements Medicare Savings Programs

Medicaid and MSPs work together to provide healthcare coverage. MSPs assist with expenses associated with Medicare, such as premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance, while Medicaid functions as health insurance for individuals with low income, encompassing these supports through MSPs.

Medicaid provides additional coverage, encompassing nursing home care, personal care services, and essential home- and community-based services for many low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

Dual enrollment in both Medicaid and a Medicare Savings Program can offer increased assistance with healthcare expenses, thus alleviating the financial strain for individuals with low income and providing them with medicaid benefits, including full Medicaid benefits.

Application Process: Enrolling in MSPs and Medicaid

Applying for MSPs and Medicaid involves contacting the state’s Medicaid office and providing necessary documentation to prove eligibility. This includes:


  • Your Social Security card
  • Medicare card
  • Birth certificate
  • Passport or green card
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of residence


The application process for MSPs and Medicaid usually lasts around 45 days. It can be advantageous to apply for both programs at the same time as they provide different medical coverage, which can optimize the benefits for eligible individuals.


Apply for medicare savings program


Additional Support for Prescription Drugs

Low-income individuals may also qualify for additional prescription drug support through programs like the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS). The LIS program provides coverage for certain expenses related to Medicare prescription drug plans, such as premiums, deductibles, and copayments.

The LIS program, also known as Extra Help, is managed by the Social Security Administration and helps low-income individuals afford Medicare Part D prescription drug premiums and share costs. To apply for the LIS program, individuals can access the Social Security Administration website at


Understanding Medicare Savings Programs and Medicaid is critical in managing healthcare costs for low-income individuals. These programs provide substantial assistance in covering a wide array of healthcare services, easing the financial burden on eligible beneficiaries.

By understanding the eligibility criteria and application process, individuals can take full advantage of these programs to obtain the healthcare coverage they need.

Frequently Asked Questions



What is the Medicare savings program?

The Medicare Savings Program (MSP) is a Medicaid-run program that assists low-income individuals in covering Medicare premiums and other out-of-pocket costs. Eligibility is based on income and may vary by state. Contact your state’s Medicaid agency for specific information.


Is MSP the same as Medicaid?

No, MSP and Medicaid are different programs. MSP is a Medicaid-administered program that helps cover Medicare premiums and other cost-sharing expenses for individuals with low income. It is possible to have both MSP and Medicaid at the same time.


What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

The main difference between Medicare and Medicaid is that Medicare is a federal program providing health coverage for those 65+ or with a disability, regardless of income, while Medicaid is a state and federal program offering health coverage for individuals with very low income.


What is the difference between full Medicaid and QMB?

The main difference between full Medicaid and QMB is that Medicaid covers services not normally covered by Medicare, while QMB helps pay for services only if they are covered by Medicare. Therefore, QMB is a partial Medicaid program designed to complement Medicare coverage.


How is eligibility for MSPs and Medicaid determined?

Eligibility for MSPs and Medicaid is determined based on income and financial resources, and these criteria may differ by state and program type.

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Russell Noga
( Medicare Expert )

Russell Noga is the CEO of ZRN Health & Financial Services, and head content editor of several Medicare insurance online publications. He has over 15 years of experience as a licensed Medicare insurance broker helping Medicare beneficiaries learn about Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap insurance, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.