When Should I Begin Planning for Medicaid?

While it can be tempting to put off evaluating programs like Medicare and Medicaid, planning ahead for your use of these programs and understanding what you will qualify for is essential. To clarify, Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage if you are 65 and older or if you are under 65 and have a disability. This program is available to anyone, regardless of their financial situation. Medicaid, on the other hand, is an additional state and federal program that provides health coverage for those with lower incomes.

Differences Between Medicare and Medicaid
While Medicare has clear age eligibility requirements, Medicaid does not — it is available to those that qualify at any age, based on income and assets. If Medicaid is a part of your long-term care plan as you age, don’t wait until you need assistance — ideally, you should consult with a trusted attorney to flesh out your options and coverage at least five years before you foresee needing Medicaid, especially for something like a nursing home or other costly medical needs. Planning ahead will help you understand what Medicaid and Medicare will cover, and may give you warning in case you need to plan for additional provisions or coverage. 

Medicaid is only available to those with demonstrated financial need. The program evaluates your countable assets, not including your vehicle or home, and determines what you’re eligible for on a federal and state level. Every state has a different maximum income for qualification, and those figures can change over time. Consult your state government or an attorney to find out specifically what your state requires. 

Planning Ahead
Based on your situation, it may be advantageous for you to create a trust while you plan for Medicaid and before receiving benefits. It’s always best to consult a lawyer to structure the trust in the way that makes the most sense for you and your beneficiaries, but in summary, it can protect your assets both from being the subject of evaluation when it comes to Medicaid, and also protect your assets from being eaten up by long-term medical care expenses. 

Understanding what and how to qualify for programs like Medicaid can be complex, but at McCarthy Law, LLC we are experienced in estate planning and Medicaid. We can help you make a plan for the future now so that when the time comes, you and your loved ones are secure and you are cared for. 

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