In the midst of a medical crisis, the last thing you want to worry about is health care coverage. There are many myths surrounding Medicaid planning. Despite the recent changes in the Medicaid Laws, there are still many opportunities to do Medicaid planning and protect your assets. In fact, Medicaid-subsidized care at home can still often be put in place. Below, we explain the truths and guide you through the complexities of this healthcare program so you can keep yourself and your loved ones protected.
What is Medicaid Planning?
Medicaid Planning is a set of complex techniques used to qualify a person for Medicaid. It can be used when the need for Medicaid is imminent, or it can be part of long term planning. Certainly, if planning is being done for other purposes, the simultaneous consideration of the Medicaid consequences would be wise. That is why consultation with an attorney who is versed in both estate and financial planning, as well as elder law, is advisable. Such planning can minimize the enormous financial and personal burden on families facing serious illness or long-term care.
Is Medicaid Planning legal?
Yes, the government allows individuals to do Medicaid Planning so long as it complies with the rules governing Medicaid. Because these rules are complex and not always intuitive, such planning must only be done by, or with the close supervision of, a qualified Elder Law attorney knowledgeable in this field.
Myth: Medicaid Planning is only for rich people with a lot of assets to protect.
Truth: The typical family doing this kind of planning is middle class, with maybe a house and some retirement money -- they are far from rich. It is planning that can work for people of various economic backgrounds.
Myth: I have Medicare and health insurance - I don't need Medicaid.
Truth: Medicare and health insurance DO NOT cover long term care. Without Medicaid Planning, you may have to pay for long term care yourself until you run out of assets.
Myth: There is only a small chance that I or my family will need long term care.
Truth: Unfortunately, 7 out of 10 people over age 65 will spend at least some time in a long term care facility. That's not counting people receiving care at home. Planning for long term care makes sense.
Myth: Medicaid only covers Nursing Homes.
Truth: Medicaid can cover care at home and at Assisted Living Facilities too. Medicaid-covered care at home can often be put in place within a month or two.
Myth: If you get Medicaid, you will lose your house.
Truth: Through proper planning, the family home can often be preserved.
Myth: My parent needs care now - it's too late to do Medicaid Planning.
Truth: It is almost never too late - assets can often be protected and care put in place even where the need for care is urgent.
Myth: I'll just give all my assets to my children -- I'll do it myself.
Truth: Make sure you are taken care of first. Remember, once you transfer an asset it is no longer under your complete control, that your children may have creditors or divorcing spouses to take into account, and that transfers may have tax consequences. Furthermore, this is a complicated field where thousands -- and, often, hundreds of thousands -- of dollars are at stake. It's unwise not to consult with professionals who regularly guide clients through the process.
Myth: People who have Medicaid get inferior care compared to people that self-pay.
Truth: There is no evidence of this - a health care provider does not care who pays for its services. Instead, the most important factor is this: people who have the most frequent and involved visitors get the best care.
Myth: Medicaid Planning is expensive - I can't afford it.
Truth: You can't afford NOT to do Medicaid Planning. First, such planning may not cost as much as you think. More importantly, compared to what is at stake, the cost to protect your assets and put care in place is definitely worth it.
[This is general information, not legal or medical advice. Anyone who needs to deal with these issues should promptly consult an attorney.]