Unlike Medicare, which is open to everyone over retirement age, Medicaid benefits are only available to those with financial need. Medicaid will cover significantly more than Medicare will, especially for those who require a stay in a nursing home or rehabilitative facility. Medicaid can also help those who could continue aging in place if a nurse would visit them at home several times a week
Some older adults just assume that they can apply for Medicaid if they discover they need benefits as they grow older. The problem with this approach is that your loved ones could end up paying for the care that you receive.
Medicaid wants beneficiaries to repay their coverage
Virginia approves people for Medicaid based on their income and their assets. You have to have a low enough monthly income to qualify. Despite these sometimes strict limitations on personal property, you can own your own home and still qualify for Medicaid.
That generosity ends when you die, however, as the state will make a claim against your estate. Medicaid estate recovery efforts will seek the full value of the coverage provided to you from your estate. Even if the claim means that your family members must liquidate all of your property and your home, leaving them with no inheritance, Medicaid will expect as much money as possible from your estate.
Unless you plan well ahead of time, your most valuable assets and the legacy that you wanted to leave for your children or other loved ones will be at risk if you eventually need Medicaid benefits as you grow older.
Advanced planning helps you in two ways
When you engage in advance planning for Medicaid benefits, you protect yourself in two ways. The first is by limiting the ability of state recovery efforts to lay claim to your property and diminish your legacy when you die. The second is that advanced planning will make it much easier for you to qualify for benefits as soon as you need them, rather than risking a penalty period during which you will not have any support.
Thinking ahead to your possible future medical needs can help you engage in Medicaid planning and other estate planning steps that will help protect you and your family members.