Medicare and Medicaid are often confused because they have similar names. Medicaid, however, is what we used to call “welfare”, or tax-payer funded, government-paid care. To qualify, you have to have very low assets (less than $2K in most states) and very low income. The guidelines for how much income/assets are complex. Complex enough that there are many attorneys who specialize in Medicaid estate planning (called Elder Law Attorney). Find an Elder Law Attorney here

Here is an easy way to remember the difference in Medicare and Medicaid:

• Medicare – CARES for you while you recover. It will not pay long term care.
• Medicaid – the “aid” on the end ought to stand for All Investments Depleted

Medicaid will pay for your long term care once you have met all the provisions. Once you are Medicaid-eligible, you will lose control of where your care happens. If Medicaid is the payor, they also get to decide where your care happens. Some states allow home care, others only pay in Medicaid-approved nursing homes. Check with your state to find out what is allowed.

The upshot is this: it isn’t pretty.
By the time you have qualified for Medicaid long term care, you are broke and your choices are significantly reduced.

Oddly – most middle and upper class people in the USA never imagine they will have to used Medicaid for their care. But government data indicate that most couples in the USA today will burn thru enough of their savings and investments to be Medicaid qualified with just 10 months of long term care. Further, in most states the vast majority of the Medicaid budget is paying for care for seniors in the last 3 years of life (remember the whole “dead beat Dad” and “single Mom’s milking welfare” bru ha ha? Turns out both of those amount to a very small part of the entire Medicaid budget – check it out with your own state to verify. But as of this writing, it is aging seniors who are the largest share of the tax dole.).




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