** This article has been revised from its original version which was published on December…
Medicaid…to some this can be the dirtiest word in the English language. Why? Many people rely on the fictions that they read on the internet and the experiences of others rather than understanding how Medicaid can help them. Let’s dispel some of those Medicaid myths for you so that you can embrace the benefits of Medicaid rather than run from them.
“It is too late for me to protect my assets”
First, for those who have the mental capacity to participate in a plan or a comprehensive Durable Power-of-Attorney, it is never too late to engage in Medicaid planning. I have had many occasions to plan for clients who are just stepping into a rehabilitation facility from a hospital and they want to protect what they can of their assets. There is always something that can be done to protect something.
“Don’t do it, I’ve lost all control”
On the flip side, you don’t want to start divesting yourself of assets so early that you find yourself dependent on your loved ones. The proper plan takes into consideration your financial need over time to assure that you have access to funds and that you are comfortable, while still protecting assets.
“I’m applying for Medicaid when I turn 65”
While some would love to apply for Medicaid while they are still able to gather everything themselves, applying too early can work against you. First, you must have a medical need for care. Second, you may want to consider waiting to apply if you transferred or gifted assets within the look-back period to avoid the imposition of a penalty.
“I can only apply for Medicaid when I’ve spent all of my money”
This is a common Medicaid myth. At the other extreme, some people wait until their family member has spent down all of their assets before realizing that they should apply for Medicaid. This could be extremely costly, especially if your loved one is incurring a private pay bill in a nursing home during that time.
“I don’t qualify for Medicaid since I own my home”
Medicaid eligibility allows an applicant to own a home with a value of up to $906,000. However, if you receive Medicaid services while owning that home, Medicaid can place a lien on your home as reimbursement for your care if you sell the home or upon your passing. Medicaid allows for certain “except transfers” of the home without incurring a penalty period and you certainly would want to know if you meet any of those exceptions to protect the equity in your home.
Ask the Expert
These Medicaid myths are important to understanding and can be complicated. Your Medicaid eligibility is something that you should seek legal counsel for. There are so many different rules and exceptions to the rules, that you want to be sure you are maximizing the savings, while getting the benefits that you are entitled to.
While this certainly isn’t a complete list of all the myths, it certainly does cover some of the most common ones. So, before you dive into the rabbit hole of the internet and start thinking that you can’t qualify, have a consultation to discuss your options. This is the best way to assess your situation before deciding that you don’t qualify for Medicaid.