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“They’re Going To Take The House,” And Other Medicaid Myths Debunked

Feb 13, 2024 | Medicaid Planning

If you or a loved one is aged 65 or older, you are likely looking into healthcare options that will effectively cover your future medical needs. One option you have probably come across is Medicaid. Medicaid is a needs-based government healthcare program that benefits low-income families and individuals. If you’re thinking that Medicaid doesn’t apply to you or your circumstances, think again–Medicaid is a relevant option for any senior who is looking to plan for their future medical needs, particularly if they anticipate needing nursing home care.

Despite the fact that Medicaid has so much to offer, people sometimes have misconceptions about Medicaid, or they don’t realize what a useful tool it can be for them. Ryan Jay Smollar of Elder Law, P.A. has been helping guide families through the process for Medicaid application for over ten years and has experience debunking common myths surrounding Medicaid. Read on to dispel your misconceptions about Medicaid and learn about how it can be relevant to your future.

Myth #1: Medicaid Is Only For People Below A Certain Income Threshold

Not necessarily true! Although it is true that Medicaid was designed to assist low-income citizens with their healthcare needs, anyone can qualify for Medicaid with the help of a seasoned Medicaid planning attorney. In fact, Medicaid planning helps retirees of all income brackets protect the wealth they wish to pass on to their family while still maintaining comprehensive healthcare coverage.

Now here is where hairs start to split: in order to qualify for Medicaid, the applicant will need to demonstrate they are below a certain income bracket. The process known as Medicaid planning makes it so that people who do not normally fall within that bracket can still qualify for Medicaid. There are several legal avenues to achieve the necessary qualifications, which is why it’s important to engage an experienced Medicaid planning lawyer like Ryan Jay Smollar.

Myth #2: You Must Give Up All Your Assets / Your House In Order To Qualify For Medicaid

False! The process of Medicaid planning does not mean that you have to deplete all your wealth or risk losing your house. Florida law protects your home during your lifetime and as an asset if it is passed on to your beneficiaries. Neither do you have to liquidate all your assets in order to qualify. A single person can have up to $2,000 in countable assets and still receive Medicaid. Not all assets are considered countable assets, either, your home being a relevant example.

That being said, “spending down” is a method that some people use to get their assets in order for Medicaid qualification. Some people choose to pre-pay for their funeral expenses or pay off a large debt or make repairs to their home or car. If it appeals to you, the spending down method is a great opportunity to permit yourself one of the big budget projects you’ve been putting off. However, it’s not the only method available. You can set up your assets in an irrevocable trust or transfer assets to your spouse, among many other options.

Myth #3: You Can’t Qualify For Medicaid If You Transferred Money Or Assets In The Past 5 Years

Untrue! This myth is based on a misunderstanding about the qualification process for Medicaid. When you are applying, there is a “look back” period of five years that seeks to ascertain whether you have recently made any large asset transfers. In this case, what the healthcare offices of Florida are looking for is money or property transferred either without compensation or far below market value. The Medicaid office will not penalize you for making normal transactions. That being said, if you are found to have made significant transfers within the five-year look back period, you could be subject to a penalty during which time your benefits will be suspended and you will have to pay for your medical needs out of your own pocket. It’s important to work with your Medicaid planning lawyer in order to ensure that your qualifications will not be subject to any pushback.

Myth #4: Medicare And Medicaid Both Cover Nursing Home Expenses

Nope! In Florida, Medicare does not cover nursing home expenses. Medicare covers specialized nursing care for a limited time and in specific circumstances. It’s important to keep in mind that Medicare does not cover long-term care. Since most people who live past the age of 65 will eventually need to enter a nursing home, the cost of which is exorbitant, attaining coverage should be a significant concern.

Medicaid, on the other hand, is your best option for covering nursing home expenses. Even if you have the money to pay for your nursing home care out of pocket, it’s better to try to qualify for Medicaid as you likely want to reserve any of your excess funds for your beneficiaries.

Myth #5: Medicaid Planning Is Fraud

Not so! Medicaid planning is a completely legal procedure, which is why it’s a common service among lawyers who specialize in estate planning. Collaborating with the seasoned Medicaid planning attorney at Elder Law, P.A. will allow you to protect your assets with methods that are entirely above board.

That being said, it’s important not to misconstrue the concept of Medicaid planning by thinking it’s okay to hide or misrepresent assets for the purpose of qualification. That would absolutely be fraud, and you could be charged for it.

Contact Elder Law, P.A. For Your Medicaid Planning Needs

If you are a senior looking for coverage for your future healthcare needs, especially if you are looking to soon enter a nursing home, Medicaid planning is a great option for you. Ryan Jay Smollar of Elder Law, P.A. has the years of experience needed to assist you with your Medicaid qualifications. As a Florida lawyer, he is dedicated to helping families and especially senior citizens understand their options in constructing a bulletproof estate plan that serves their unique needs. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation and learn about some of the Medicaid planning strategies that will allow you to get qualified.

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