When most people think of estate planning, they usually think of executing a will or setting aside assets in a trust. Medicaid doesn’t come up as often but, if you think you may need help with long-term care as you get older, planning for it can be critical. North Carolina has options for you but they can be complex, and it’s not something you want to leave until the last minute.
Why should I be thinking of long-term care now?
Whether we’re talking about nursing homes or assisted living, long-term care doesn’t come cheap. And with health care costs continuously on the rise, it will only get more expensive.
Medicare is the entitlement program which many people take advantage of when they get older. If you qualify for Social Security benefits, you also qualify for Medicare. The problem is, there’s a gaping hole in Medicare when it comes to long-term care. There simply isn’t a lot of coverage for it, either in the scope of what it covers or in the length of time it does cover long-term care. If you’re depending on Medicare for long-term care, chances are you’re going to come up short.
How does Medicaid help?
Medicaid is far more expansive than Medicare when it comes to long-term care. North Carolina has a number of Medicaid options that can cover the costs when assisted living or a nursing home becomes necessary. However, Medicaid is not an entitlement program like Medicare is – there are limits on how much income and assets you can have in order to qualify for Medicaid.
This is where Medicaid planning comes in, as part of your estate planning strategy. The idea is to plan for your future so that you meet the income and asset requirements of Medicaid, so that it’s an option when you need it. Furthermore, when you apply for Medicaid, your finances are not considered only for that moment but also for a number of years prior to you applying. Which means you may not simply be able to divest yourself of certain assets at the last minute to get under the limits. But if you start early, you can manage those assets smartly so that they are not an issue when you apply.