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Common misjudgments about Medicaid

Whether you are a baby boomer or a millennial, you may someday need to care for an aging parent. You have probably heard about astronomical prices charged by nursing homes with warm, fuzzy names like "Meadowlark Haven in the Woods" or "Peaceful Sunnybrook Cottage." Home health care also sounds like a luxury beyond your means.  

Your mind fills with "what-ifs" and the future looks bleak until you remember that protective government plans are available to bridge the gaps. With the right information and strategy, you can tame the confusion. You can get off to a good start by banishing common myths about Medicaid.

Myth #1: Medicaid is just a substitute word for Medicare

The truth is that these programs are not related. Medicare is a retirement program administered by the federal government. Your parent receives payments based on the amount of government tax withheld from any former employment.

Your parent or legal representative may apply for Medicaid, a state-run program for needs such as nursing homes and more. Your parent must meet certain low-income or disability requirements to qualify. Each state determines how to run its Medicaid program. Make sure your information pertains to Colorado law if you live in another state.

Myth #2: Medicaid is too hard to understand

While you realize you may need Medicaid financial help one day, the challenge is in the details. Medicaid can be a hard topic for you to approach or understand. When you first attempt to navigate the system, you may want to throw up your hands, run to the kitchen and pull out the ice cream.

Take comfort in the fact that there is knowledgeable and caring assistance available to help you; after all, if you are a caregiver, you may be too overwhelmed to take this on alone.

Myth #3: Medicaid will take all your parents' assets

It is a falsehood that Medicaid will automatically take all your family assets. For example, if your elderly father lives in a Medicaid-supported nursing home, Medicaid rules generally allow your mother to continue living in their home.

Although Medicaid can be an intimidating feature of eldercare, plan now and if you need help, remember you do not have to cope with these complex issues by yourself. Informed planning can help protect your parents' assets so they can remain eligible to receive Medicaid.

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