Where can you find good information about what, exactly, Medicaid means to you and your elderly loved ones?

A recent Forbes article is a good place to start. The article is aptly titled “Medicaid And Your Parents: The Basics.”  Essentially, Medicaid is a program run jointly by the federal and state governments.  The federal government sets the overarching rules and provides funding.  The states, which implement the program, are allowed to adopt their own rules for qualification and enforcement.  Think of it as government insurance for, among other things, late-in-life nursing home care for those with limited financial resources.

Medicaid is “means-based.”  This means that having "too much" income or "too much" in assets will disqualify a Medicaid applicant.  In addition, having “assets” is not the same as having the money to pay for care.

For those with assets exceeding the Medicaid limits, giving assets away will only disqualify them from Medicaid assistance if the transfers violate the “look back” period designed to keep them from gaming the system.  Of course, an elderly individual might have had innocent intentions when he or she made a disqualifying gift when the need for Medicaid was unforeseen.  Regardless, any gratuitous transfer (including a gift to charity) is a red flag when it comes to Medicaid qualification.

Each state is different in its approach, and it is easy to run afoul of the rules be disqualified from benerits.  The good news is that having an awareness of the rules that are specific to your state can help you plan for a worst case scenario where you or a loved one might need assistance with long-term care costs.   You can click here to learn more about Medicaid qualification in Hawaii.

Reference: Forbes (February 11, 2014) “Medicaid And Your Parents: The Basics

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