The government involvement in the health care system has become much more complicated recently, and much of that is a subject for a different forum. As an elder law firm in Charlotte North Carolina, though, we are interested in government health insurance programs as they apply to senior citizens. With this in mind, we would like to provide a basic explanation of Medicaid in Charlotte NC as it applies to elders who need long-term care.
Why Would You Need Medicaid in Charlotte NC?
Your knee-jerk reaction to the subject of Medicaid could be confusion. Why would you need to know anything about Medicaid when you are going to qualify for Medicare?
Medicare is a government run health insurance program that you pay into when you are working. As a result, when you reach the age of eligibility (which is 65 years of age), your health insurance needs are going to be met.
Medicaid is relevant to those who will qualify for Medicare because Medicare will not pay for long-term care.
A stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility is considered to be custodial care. The same would be true of assistance that is provided within your home that is not specifically medical in nature.
Most the people in the United States are going to need living assistance at some point in time. Therefore, the lack of coverage through Medicare is an issue that is relevant to just about everyone.
Medicaid will fill the gap when it comes to long-term care. In fact, the majority of the long-term care expenses that are accumulated by seniors in the United States are being paid by the Medicaid program. Most of the seniors who are enrolled were never really poor throughout their lives.
It is simply impossible for many people to pay for long-term care out-of-pocket. The average stay in a nursing home using today’s costs could reach the vicinity of $200,000.
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is a needs-based program. If your countable assets exceed $2000, you cannot qualify for Medicaid.
How could you qualify for Medicaid if you are not indigent? One option would be to pay for your long-term care expenses out of your savings until there was virtually nothing left. Then you could qualify for Medicaid.
Another option would be to plan ahead. You could systematically divest yourself of assets, perhaps giving advance inheritances. TO best preserve assets, you may need to act long before you need living assistance, because you are generally penalized for giving away assets within five years of applying for Medicaid.
If you are married and you need long-term care, your spouse can retain ownership of a significant store of assets if you plan ahead effectively. And if you are within the five-year window, you may still be able to preserve some assets with careful planning, even if you are not married.
It is important to be proactive and pragmatic when you are considering the eventualities of aging given the cost of long-term care and the limitations of Medicare. The first step would be to discuss Medicaid planning with a licensed Charlotte NC elder law attorney.