Medicaid – Make My Day!

Medicaid – Make My Day! Image

One in three people who turn 65 will spend some time in a nursing home, and 62 percent of individuals in a nursing home cannot pay their bill on their own because long-term care is very expensive ($70,000 - $120,000/year in Delaware in 2017). Medicaid is the only federal program required to pay for skilled care at home or in a nursing home. While Medicaid was designed for low-income individuals with very few assets, using trust-based planning you can also qualify for this benefit and keep your assets.

The key is to plan ahead.

Medicaid Misconceptions

Since Medicaid is likely to be in the mix if you need to pay for long-term care, it’s important to sort out fact from fiction. Here are some common misconceptions.

  • I can find out all I need to know about Medicaid from nursing homes or the Medicaid program.
    • While both may be good places to learn the basics, neither are concerned about your financial well-being which is the goal of a qualified elder law attorney. In fact, nursing homes accept lower fees from Medicaid so they may have reasons to discourage you for applying for Medicaid.
  • I need to be in poverty to qualify for Medicaid.
    • It is possible for people with assets to qualify for Medicaid. You just need to work with a qualified attorney to protect your property and receive the benefits, too.
  • I will not be able to keep my house if I use Medicaid.
    • Medicaid will not take your house, but without proper planning Medicaid may put a lien on it. The lien would allow Medicaid to be repaid the money spent on your care from your estate when you (and your spouse) die. There are steps an elder law attorney can take to preserve your house.
  • To qualify for Medicaid, I must give away everything I own, all of my money and all of my future income.
    • This is not true. In fact, giving away some of your assets might result in unintended tax consequences for you or the person who receives the gift and it can also work against your qualifying for Medicaid.

Take Steps Now to Qualify Later

You and your loved ones can take steps now to help you qualify for Medicaid if and when you need it.  

The key to protecting your assets is to get them out of your name. Anything in your name – your house, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, annuities and insurance policies – can be claimed by Medicaid from your estate if you do receive benefits. Assets put into a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust are protected because they are not counted as assets by Medicaid. A trust can also keep property from being part of your estate so Medicaid cannot claim it.

A qualified elder law attorney can help you understand the options you have to protect your assets and to qualify for the help you may need in the future. Give us a call if you are ready to begin!