We all expect and hope to have long and healthy lives. However, the truth is, no one lives forever and all too often health issues and accidents occur, leaving many individuals unprepared and in trouble. But there is something you can do to ensure you are never put in this position: PLAN! By planning ahead, you are able to answer the tough questions and make arrangements while you are in good health and mind.
The harsh truth is that 7 out of 10 people over the age of 65 will require expensive long-term care at some point. Would you be able to foot the bill for an extended stay at a nursing home, assisted living facility or at-home care for you or your spouse? Even if you could, would you prefer to pass your savings and other assets to your loved ones rather than have those assets depleted by costly long term care expenses? To protect your lifestyle and assets, Medicaid Planning is necessary.
While there are countless amounts of information available, there are also many Medicaid myths when it comes to Medicaid Planning. Here are a few to illustrate that it’s easier than you think to qualify and the time is now to start planning.
Myth 1: I have too many assets to qualify for Medicaid
You do not have to be poor to apply for Medicaid. Although a nursing home resident is only entitled to keep about $14,550 of “countable” assets as of January 1, 2014, there are a variety of assets that are not considered “countable” for Medicaid purposes. For example, an individual’s home is not considered “countable” under certain circumstances. Furthermore, the “healthy” spouse can keep certain determinable in assets. In regard to assets in excess of these amounts and exclusions, proper planning by an elder law attorney can help you structure your assets in a way that will meet the qualification criteria and avoid a potential Medicaid lien on your house.
Myth 2: It is too late for me to start Medicaid Planning
It is almost never too late. Even if you or your spouse are already in a nursing home, there are several strategies for Medicaid Planning available. Assets can also be protected in urgent situations.
Myth 3: To qualify immediately, I can simply transfer all of my assets to my children
When the state reviews applications for Medicaid, it looks back 5 years to determine whether you have transferred any assets. If transfers of assets have been made, they may affect your eligibility and result in a penalty which disqualifies you from receiving Medicaid for a certain period of time depending on the size of the transfer. The penalty periods can be substantial. However, an experienced elder law attorney can present you with options that may be able to get you qualified immediately.
Myth 4: If I am on Medicaid, I will receive a lower quality of care
Whether you are paying yourself, through insurance or Medicaid, it makes no difference in the level of care you receive. Federal law requires that Medicaid and private pay patients at nursing homes receive the same quality of care. In fact, the vast majority of nursing home patients in the U.S. are on Medicaid. Less than 30% of Americans in nursing homes pay for it on their own.