Medicaid is a program that helps many elderly people in the United States, and yet there are many myths and misconceptions about it. Before people make any assumptions about Medicaid, they should learn some of the most basic facts.
Here are three important pieces of information that everyone should know in terms of applying for Medicaid or before deciding that they are not eligible.
1. Medicaid covers nearly two-thirds of nursing home residents
Before deciding they cannot afford to pay for nursing home care, people should know that Medicaid may be an option. The New York Times reports that Medicaid covers almost two-thirds of nursing home residents, and many of these people are middle-class. Medicaid is not only for the poor. For example, in Colorado, a married couple is allowed to retain their home, automobile, personal property and $123,000 in other assets. And, elder law attorneys specializing in this area can often identify options designed to preserve the amounts in excess of $123,000. For single individuals, they often can preserve at least one-half of the individual's assets, even in a crisis.
2. Medicaid is an entitlement program
Because Medicaid is an entitlement program, anyone who meets the eligibility rules has a right to the program. Sometimes the term "entitlement" makes people think that they are getting something they do not deserve or did not earn, but that is not the case. Entitlement programs are there to ensure basic benefits to certain sectors of the population, and the law protects these benefits. Therefore, those who are eligible should exercise their right to the benefits.
3. Medicaid can be part of a comprehensive estate planning discussion
Planning for Medicaid is something that many people may not consider. When drawing up a comprehensive estate plan, which often includes a will, advance directives and asset distribution strategies, Medicaid can also be a productive part of that discussion, resulting in significant savings and preservation of assets.