Medicare is an insurance program. Medical bills are paid from trust funds which those covered have paid into. It serves people over 65 primarily, whatever their income; and serves younger disabled people and dialysis patients. Patients pay part of costs through deductibles for hospital and other costs. Small monthly premiums are required for non-hospital coverage. Medicare is a federal program. It is basically the same everywhere in the United States and is run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency of the federal government.

Figure 1: Differences between Medi-Cal and Medicare[i]

Medicaid (Medi-Cal for California) is an assistance program. It serves low-income people of every age. Patients usually pay no part of costs for covered medical expenses. A small co-payment is sometimes required. Medicaid is a federal-state program. It varies from state to state. It is run by state and local governments within federal guidelines.


The first row illustrates the population in which the programs are geared to. The second row conveys how many California residents are enrolled in each program. The third row shows services covered for each program. The fourth row displays the cost sharing for each program. The fifth row shows how each program is funded.  Lastly, the sixth row explains which entity administers each program.

Need more information?

Check out the following links to gather more information regarding each program: