Medicare and Medicaid dominated political discussions of health care during both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterm elections. Yet, despite the attention paid to these two programs, few people in Georgia have any clear idea of how federal and state funds are spent.
Medicare is a federally funded program that provides health care insurance for people who have reached retirement age and satisfy certain other requirements. The federal subsidies significantly reduce the cost of health insurance for elderly Georgians.
Medicaid, on the other hand, is a joint federal and state program intended to provide health care for people whose income is below the median income. According to figures published by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Service, Georgia has more than 1.79 million Medicaid enrollees. Of this number, 61% are children, 27% are aged and disabled, and 12% fall into the gray "other" category. About one-third of the payments are made to HMOs and prepaid health plans. Twenty-five percent of the payments are made to long term care facilities.
Even though Georgia's Medicaid expenses have been growing over the last 15 years, the state still ranks among the lowest in Medicaid expenditures per enrollee. The United States average is $6,396 per enrollee per year, and Georgia's yearly average is $4,838 per enrollee. Nebraska is the lowest at $4,003. These figures show that Georgia's spending on Medicaid is still far below the spending levels of other states.
Whether one believes that Georgia spends too much or too little on Medicaid, the amount of money does not guarantee that every resident of the state will receive proper medical care. Because the plans are very complex, the advice of an attorney knowledgeable in elder law and special needs planning can be essential in planning for and obtaining Medicaid benefits.