What you should know about Medicaid planning

Advances in medical technology, science, nutrition, infrastructure and urban development, as well as better access to health care, have all contributed to longer life spans throughout the civilized world. This means that we have more time to spend with our loved ones while living healthy, fulfilled lives. Because of the limitations of our bodies, though, it also means that we are more susceptible to developing illnesses or medical conditions, or suffering serious injuries as we age. Should that happen, there may be a need for more help such as that offered by an assisted living or long-term care facility.

Long-term residential care facilities like nursing homes are crucial for thousands of people, offering support and care that wouldn't be possible at home because it is simply too much for loved ones and part-time caregivers to provide. That level of assistance doesn't come cheap, though. According to Longtermcare.gov (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's website for information and resources concerning long-term care), nursing home and convalescent care facilities can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousands of dollars per day. This translates to expenses that average between approximately $6,000 to nearly $100,000 annually, depending on:

  • Type of care offered (for example, full medical care for a bed-bound patient will be considerably more expensive than meal support or light housekeeping offered in an assisted living facility)
  • Geographical location
  • Age of the facility
  • Number of patients ("boutique" facilities can be more expensive because the ratio of caregivers to patients is often smaller)
  • Privacy (patients pay more for a private room than a semi-private one)
  • Special treatment costs (brand name or off-label medications, experimental therapies, etc.)

If you are wealthy, paying so much for care may be unpleasant, but it's not necessarily a burden. For most of us, however, the thought of having to spend upwards of $80,000 for a years' worth of full-time care in a nursing home is worrisome. Money we have worked our entire lives to save can be gone in just a few years. All hope for leaving a financial legacy for our loved ones isn't lost, though. It is possible to protect assets and qualify for government-provided medical payment assistance through the practice of Medicaid planning.

What is Medicaid planning?

Most of us know that Medicaid is a government medical provision designed to give lower-income people access to medical care. That benefit extends to the provision of long-term care in residential care facilities under certain circumstances.

The key barrier for many people in qualifying for Medicaid assistance is the income/asset limitations. Medicaid typically allows no more than $2,000 in assets (aside from a homestead) to be eligible. Some people may think that they could just give away their assets to loved ones and still receive Medicaid benefits, but there are actually "look-back" provisions in place that allow assets to be recovered if disposed of within a certain time before care is provided. This is why Medicaid planning needs to be done by a professional, and it needs to be done an ample time prior to the onset of long-term care.

Would you like to learn more about ways to leave your hard-earned assets for loved ones - through strategic gifts, trusts and more - without jeopardizing much-needed government benefit eligibility? Do you have questions about whether Medicaid planning is right for you? If so, contact the experienced attorneys at the Sandusky, Ohio, law firm of Flynn, Py & Kruse. Call them today at 419-625-8324 or send an email to schedule a consultation.

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