What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?
These are separate public assistance programs.
Medicare is a federal health program for the elderly and the disabled. Medicare provides temporary coverage of hospital, nursing home, home health care, hospice and other skilled care, and general medical insurance. One has to be at least 65 years old to be eligible. Medicare pays for reasonable and necessary medical services. Coverage is for a limited period, and after 20 days of full coverage, the recipient has to co-pay. Anyone who receives Social Security or railroad retirement benefits are entitled to Medicare and hospitalization insurance (Part A), and have the option of enrolling for general medical insurance (Part B). For additional information regarding eligibility, programs, coverage, etc, consult with an attorney with experience in these matters.
Medicaid, also known as Medical Assistance, is a federal program for the poor and the needy, administered by the States, with each State having its own regulations that modify and supplement the federal program. Medical Assistance is a comprehensive medical insurance program that covers long term care, including nursing home and comparable services provided by other facilities. Strict financial and medical eligibility criteria must be met. You apply for Medicaid at the local department of social services in your County. The application must be in writing and a personal interview at the Department of Social Services is required.
All of the applicant’s income and resources are carefully considered, including joint accounts, and assets just in the name of one’s spouse. If one gives away property, creates a medicaid qualifying trust or make transfers for less than fair value, the applicant will be subject to a penalty period during which the applicant will be ineligible for Medicaid. There are many complicated rules and traps for the unwary.
By consulting with an attorney experienced in elder law issues before a crisis develops, you will: (a) better understand how Medicaid considerations could impact your estate plan, and (b) be better able to make an informed decision and maximize the asset and income protection planning opportunities available to you. Timing is critical, and technical oversights may result in an unexpected and costly loss of eligibility. The benefits of timely and effective planning are well worth the cost of experienced professional guidance.
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