After age 65, the chances for needing long-term care go up drastically – and continue to climb as one ages. And long-term care is expensive. Yet, most aging adults simply aren’t prepared.
Is Medicaid an option?
Medicaid picks up medical coverage where Medicare leaves off – especially for long-term care, which Medicare doesn’t cover – and it can help with costs immensely. But Medicaid has strict eligibility requirements:
To qualify for Medicaid, your parents or loved ones need to meet three categories of requirements:
- General Medicaid eligibility requirements - Be age 65 or older or permanently disabled or blind, be a US citizen or meet immigration requirements, and be a resident of the state where they’re applying.
- Functional requirements - A medical specialist in the state evaluates your loved one’s care needs, determining if help is needed with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, eating, and taking medications.
- Financial requirements - Medicaid was designed for those who have very few, if any, assets (usually under $2,000, not including home, car, or possessions) and have an income of about $400 per month.
It may just be a matter of time…
If you don’t think of your parents as impoverished or low income, don’t rule out Medicaid. If it’s not a viable option now, perhaps it will be in the future. Assets can drain rather quickly, as the level of care that’s needed rises.
Get the low-down on spending down
If your parents or loved ones fall in between – in other words, they can’t afford to pay for all the things that Medicare doesn’t cover or for supplemental insurance, but they’re not quite able to qualify for Medicaid, there are steps you can help them take so they will qualify. This is referred to as “spending down.” But proceed with caution, and definitely look to an elder law attorney for guidance. Asset transfers made within the five years prior to a Medicaid application will result in an automatic disqualification.
State by State
Medicaid will only cover services by an approved provider. Medicaid varies from state to state. To find out the contact information for your state Medicaid office, click here.