What you need to know about Medicare and Medicaid

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Health law and policy is more relevant than ever. From the Affordable Care Act being signed into law in 2010 by former president Barack Obama, to President Trump’s own proposed health care changes, it’s no secret that the industry is constantly evolving, especially when a new administration comes to power. With all of these changes comes the demand for more professionals who specialize in health law and policy, specifically those who can navigate Medicare and Medicaid as new laws develop.

Those who want to help make a difference in the way the health care industry is perceived and functions may consider enrolling in the online Master of Laws or online Master of Arts in Health Law and Policy program at Hofstra Law. Each program is designed to help build your legal literacy while improving your knowledge, skills and expertise in health law and policy.

Due to ongoing changes in Medicare and Medicaid, it’s important that you have a strong grasp on what these programs entail and the impact they have on the population as they continue to evolve. This article will discuss the basics of Medicare and Medicaid and introduce you to the course that Hofstra Law offers to help shape you into a health care program expert.

health care worker taking notes from doctor

Medicare and Medicaid: The basics

Based on information from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees both health care programs as well as other federal care programs and services, here are the similarities and differences between Medicare and Medicaid.


Medicare is a federal health care program that provides coverage for people of any age with end-stage renal disease, people aged 65 or older and certain individuals under 65 who live with disabilities. There are nearly 58 million beneficiaries enrolled in the program, and more than 6,000 hospitals, 15,000 nursing facilities and 1.2 million physicians and other practitioners providing care for Medicare patients.

This national program consists of four parts:

  • Part A is hospital insurance, covering beneficiaries at inpatient hospitals, inpatient skilled nursing facilities, hospice and certain home health services.
  • Part B is medical insurance, covering physician services, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, home health services and certain preventive care services.
  • Part C is Medicare Advantage, a managed care program that provides all services of Part A and B and may also cover prescription drugs and supplements.
  • Part D is a prescription drug benefit, which helps cover the cost of prescription drugs available at Medicare-approved private insurance companies.


Medicaid is a federal and state health care program that provides coverage for low-income adults, pregnant women and children. It’s a network of statewide programs that are administered by state governments and provide eligibility based on a variety of state regulations, statutes and policies. There are more than 72 million beneficiaries enrolled in the program, which includes as many as 28 million children. Of those beneficiaries, the population groups consist of children and young adults, parents or caretakers of minors, certain individuals with disabilities, seniors, youth leaving foster care and pregnant women. In fact, Medicaid is the largest payer of 40 percent of all births, according to CMS.

All individuals who belong to these population groups must also meet state and federal requirements for immigration status, residency and U.S. citizenship to gain coverage.

Under the Medicaid program, there are certain services that states are required to cover, and other services they can choose to include. Services enforced by Medicaid include doctors’ appointments, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, mental health appointments, necessary medications, prenatal and maternity care, and preventive care. States have the option to provide coverage for dental services, home and community-based services, physical therapy and prosthetics. Vision and eyeglasses is another optional service, but all children and adolescents are eligible for vision, dental and hearing options under the Medicare Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment benefit.

In essence, the main differences between Medicare and Medicaid are the services provided to certain individuals and their criteria for eligibility, but both provide government assistance for those without adequate insurance in need of a health care program.

How Hofstra Law teaches you about Medicare and Medicaid

Hofstra Law’s online master’s programs are designed to help you become a thought leader in health law and policy. Since Medicare and Medicaid is an essential topic and will always be relevant in the industry, Hofstra Law dedicates a full two-credit course to reviewing these government-funded health programs. In the beginning of the course, you’ll study the history, purposes, expectations and evolution of Medicare and Medicaid legislation with an emphasis on the recent changes made to the programs. You’ll form a familiarity with issues related to patients, hospitals, doctors and other health care providers that fall under Medicare and Medicaid laws, and grasp an understanding of the lawyer’s role in fraud and other areas of expertise.

Additionally, you’ll learn about relevant policy issues within Medicare and Medicaid and how they compare to laws regarding other federally funded programs in health care.

If you’re looking for a health law program that features a robust overview of Medicare and Medicaid, enrolling in the online Master’s in Health Law and Policy programs at Hofstra Law is the way to go. You’ll gain valuable knowledge, skills and insight throughout your tenure, all from the comfort of your home or wherever you choose to study.

Learn more about how you can advance your career and earn an online Master’s in Health Law and Policy by visiting the program page. For more information, contact an enrollment advisor today.


Recommended Readings:

Why Specialize in Health Law and Policy

GMAT and GRE: What they are, and why Hofstra Law doesn’t require the exams



Differences between Medicare and Medicaid



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