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5 Common Medicaid Misconceptions

Medicaid is a federal program that provides health coverage for people who meet specific eligibility requirements. It covers the cost of nursing home care for those who meet the program’s economic requirements for eligibility.

But just who can be covered by Medicaid? How do you become eligible for Medicaid?

Well, there are lots of misconceptions about the answers to these two questions, so let's set the record straight:

1. It’s Never Too Late

Medicaid planning can begin anytime, even if your loved one is already living in a skilled care facility. But the sooner you plan, the more options you will have to protect what’s important to you.

2. You Can Keep Your Home

If you’re married, and you or your spouse needs to go into a nursing home, your home is exempt from Medicaid’s calculation of what your contribution to the cost of care should be. If you are unmarried or widowed, and you go into a nursing home, your house may be exempt if you follow certain procedures. Even though your house is safe while you reside in a nursing home, it will likely be lost to Medicaid after your death. Planning is key to preserving your home whether married, single or widowed.

3. Don't Give Away the Store

Since major changes to laws in 2006, “gifting” away your assets creates unforeseen circumstances and can make you ineligible for medicaid benefits for 5 years or more! Far from protecting yourself, you will be undermining your own security.

4. Mind Those Safe Harbors

Congress has created a number of “safe harbor” provisions for protecting your assets. These provisions exempt certain assets and allow transfers to children or siblings, who meet certain eligibility requirements, as well as putting assets in certain kinds of trusts.

5. Carefully Choose When You Apply

Applying too early can mean a longer wait for Medicaid qualification than necessary, while applying too late can mean having to pay for months of care you may not have had to pay. Rule of thumb: Do not apply for Medicaid without a plan to ensure you qualify.

Get the Right Help

Medicaid planning is a complex matter. You need expert assistance to keep your assets safe. Be sure to find legal counsel who limits their practice to this area — someone with proven expertise in Medicaid law.

Free Webinar: How to Protect Your Life Savings in 3 Easy Steps

For a more in-depth look at how to pay for long-term care along with specific strategies, register for our free webinar.

Save Your Spot

This brief overview of some important considerations associated with ALTCS eligibility is by no means comprehensive. Always seek the advice of a competent professional when making important financial and legal decisions.

Arizona Estate Planning AttorneySteve Cook is a estate planning lawyer at Cook & Cook. Although his main office is located in Mesa, Arizona, he represents clients throughout the Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan area including the following east valley cities: Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Tempe, Chandler, & Gilbert.

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