The rules concerning Medicaid qualification and coverage can be complicated, and there are plenty of myths and misconceptions to confuse people even further. These are a few of the more common myths, along with the facts about Medicaid.
1) Myth: I don’t need to worry about Medicaid, because Medicare will cover my nursing home costs.
Fact: Medicare only covers a very small portion of nursing home bills. The rest will need to be covered either by private long-term care insurance, out of pocket, or by Medicaid.
2) Myth: My family attorney, who has handled business issues and speeding tickets for me in the past, can help me figure out Medicaid coverage.
Fact: Medicaid policy is a highly complicated area of the law that can change frequently and dramatically. Elder law attorneys are focused on maintaining an updated and working knowledge of this area of the law that general practitioners may not have. To be sure you’re receiving the most current advice, you’ll want to consult with an elder law attorney.
3) Myth: If I give anything away, I won’t be able to get Medicaid.
Fact: Not all asset transfers will disqualify you for Medicaid. It depends on a number of factors, including what type of asset you’ve transferred, whether the transfer qualifies as a gift, who the asset went to, and when the transfer was made. An elder law attorney can explain how the rules apply to your situation.
4) Myth: I have to give away everything I own to get Medicaid.
Fact: You do not have to be completely poverty-stricken to qualify for Medicaid. Certain types of property are “non-countable”, meaning you can own them and still be eligible. Examples of “non-countable” property include your home (under certain circumstances), your personal property, and certain prepaid burial or funeral contracts.
5) Myth: Medicaid rules dictate that I can only give away $10,000 per year.
Fact: People who talk about this myth are confusing an IRS rule with the Medicaid rules. Under IRS rule, a person can make gifts of up to$13,000 per donee per year without paying gift tax (the annual limit used to be $10,000). This has nothing at all to do with Medicaid. As a matter of fact, if a person is worrying about estate planning using federal gift tax exemptions, they’ll probably be paying for long term care using means other than Medicaid.
6) Myth: I can hide my assets and be eligible for Medicaid
Fact: This is the most dangerous Medicaid myth. Intentional misrepresentation on a Medicaid application is a crime, and it can be an unnecessarily costly one. If you’re caught, you may have to repay any benefits you’ve received. Working with an attorney will help you to properly plan, protect your assets, and qualify for Medicaid legally.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.