In recent weeks I have explained that Medicare is not intended to provide assistance to seniors in need of long term care unless their condition is either terminal or expected to improve. Instead, under certain circumstances, Medicaid will provide long term care benefits to seniors in need.
I believe Medicaid is a critically important safety net to assist our most vulnerable senior citizens in need. Therefore, it may seem ironic that the purpose of this column is to encourage you to avoid relying on Medicaid if possible.
Many government assistance programs are viewed as an entitlement, free to the recipient, at a cost to the rest of society. In Idaho, this is not true of Medicaid. There is a financial cost to the recipient.
As I will discuss starting in upcoming weeks, a senior may have a significant amount in assets, and income, and still qualify for Medicaid assistance. However, if you are age 55 or older, and receive Medicaid benefits, your estate will be expected to reimburse Medicaid at your passing. A claim may even be made against the estate of your spouse. If you give assets away before your passing, Medicaid may even go to the recipient to recovery that asset. However, barring extreme circumstances, estate recovery is not attempted until after your death and your spouse.
There are exceptions to this estate recovery process but they are very limited.
There is a difference between receiving assistance and doing so in a way that allows you to preserve the estate you wish to pass on to others. For those who have no other option, Medicaid is critically important. However, if you and your spouse have spent a lifetime building an estate you wish to pass on to your posterity, relying on Medicaid for long term care may be the most expensive option of all.
Keep this in mind as I discuss in coming weeks the process to qualify for Medicaid assistance, and other options that may be available.
© 2015 Steven J Wright