Getting older is difficult, in many ways. The most obvious difficulty is the effects of aging on the body as well as the mind. But aging is also costly, in the financial sense. Most Americans are not as prepared as they should be to confront this reality.
There a few factors that account for this, and it is mainly the fear of aging and dying as well as resistance to talking about this issue with loved ones. There is also an aversion to talking about money with financial professionals as well as loved ones. However, it is vital that these discussions happen and that people, while healthy, plan for their future medical care. In planning for your future medical care, timing is important if not essential.
Assisted living facilities are “private pay” in that medical insurance is not accepted; but long term care insurance and direct payment is. Unlike assisted living facilities, nursing homes offer medical supervision and care. Nursing homes are also private pay but they also accept insurance, specifically long term care insurance and Medicaid. Medicare does not cover long term care in a nursing home.
Medicare is health insurance that all Americans are entitled to upon reaching retirement age; it is not a “means tested” program-this signifies that income is irrelevant. Medicaid, other the other hand, is a “means tested” program- and income is very relevant. Medicaid is a program for low income individuals as well as children.
It is also the program that many Americans use in order to pay for their nursing home care. But because it is means tested many of those Americans, without the proper planning, would not qualify for it---and here is where the elder law attorney comes in.
The process to apply for and qualify for Medicaid, particular institutional (nursing home) care can be complex. In simplest terms, in New York there is a five year look back period in order to qualify for Medicaid nursing home care; if a transfer of property or other assets took place within the five years it would deem the person illegible during a penalty period. If the transfers took place outside the five year period, the person would be deemed eligible immediately. The five year period in inapplicable for community Medicaid but the strict income and resources rules do. More detailed information about the income and resource rules are available at this link or by going to the Resources tab on the site.
In sum if you have assets, in the bank, investments or real estate, you will very likely need to plan to protect it. Veronica can guide you and your loved ones through the complex, and oftentimes paper intensive process of Medicaid planning.