Can my mother use both Medicare and Medicaid at the same time?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother lives in Illinois. She is looking at an assisted care living residence. The residence takes Medicaid. She is currently on Medicare and has very low income. Can she be on Medicaid and Medicare at the same time? My mother is concerned about her heath benefits if she gives up Medicare and her supplement.

Expert Answer

Yes, your mother can be covered by Medicare and Medicaid at the same time (if her income and assets are low enough for her to qualify for Medicaid). If she enters the assisted living facility and is covered by Illinois's Medicaid program, Medicare and Medicaid would combine to cover your mother's care in this way:

  • Assisted living. Medicaid but not Medicare would contribute to the normal daily living costs of the assisted living facility. Medicare does not cover residence in assisted living. How much Medicaid pays of the assisted living facility's regular fees depends on the Illinois Medicaid program's own rules about assisted living coverage (each state makes its own coverage rules). To find out details of the Illinois state Medicaid program's (technically, it's called the Supportive Living Program) coverage of assisted living, check the Web site of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Assisted Living at

  • Medical care. While she lives in the assisted living facility, Medicare and Medicaid would share coverage of your mother's medical bills --that is, the cost of medical treatment beyond the normal daily care provided by the assisted living facility. Medicare will provide the same level of coverage for medical care as it would if your mother were living at home. In addition, Medicaid can cover many of the medical costs Medicare leaves unpaid, such as Medicare premiums, deductibles and copayments.