Medicaid for Seniors

Written by Collett P. Small, Esq. on . Posted in Estate Planning

Medicaid is a significant resource for many seniors as it covers the cost of long-term care for
illnesses such as Alzheimer's, or paralysis caused by a stroke as well as other expenses relating
to nursing home care. Nursing home care is very expensive and can quickly eat up a senior's
lifelong savings and assets, rendering them unable to pay for the cost of their care. Depending
on where you reside nursing home care can cost upwards of $100,000 a year. Consequently,
most people who require long-term skilled nursing care must eventually apply for Medicaid.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health coverage for some elderly
persons, persons with disabilities, families, children, pregnant women, and others who are unable
to pay. Once a person qualifies for Medicaid they receive coverage for physicians' services,
hospital care, supplies and other necessary services. Medicaid also pays for the expenses of
long-term care in a nursing home. Medicaid programs must follow federal guidelines, but they
vary somewhat from state to state. Eligibility is usually based on many factors, including the
applicant's assets and income. If the applicant is married the assets and income of both spouses
are considered.

Medicaid rules are very complex. In fact, Medicaid is considered to be one of the most complex
laws. Fortunately, many Elder Law attorneys have carefully studied the Medicaid statutes and
regulations and are able to assist clients in proper Medicaid planning. It is important to know
what common mistakes to avoid. If faced with the possibility of long-term care expenses, there
are certain rules for determining eligibility that you should be aware of. Some of these rules
include:

• The individual's actual need for care

• The individual's available resources

• The individual's income

• Disqualification for gifts made within the previous few years.

• In determining eligibility for one spouse, the assets and income for both spouses are
considered. However, consideration is given to the spouse who is not in a nursing home
so that they will not be unduly impoverished.

• There are certain resources that are considered exempt for eligibility purposes; including
but not limited to the family homestead, household contents, vehicle, and prepaid burial
fund.

Many of these rules have exceptions, exemption, possible penalties or caveats. Many Elder Law
attorneys have extensive training and experience concerning Medicaid and have been advising
clients and their families for many years. Much of the planning done by older persons concerning
Medicaid has been done with the help of such experienced attorneys. In order to timely qualify
for benefits and navigate through the various rules and requirements is recommended that
someone who is about to apply for Medicaid consult with an Elder Law attorney in their area to
assist them with planning.