As seniors grow older, they may find it difficult to pay for rising health care costs. This at a time when for most, their income is reduced. Many see the Medicaid income requirements listed for their state and are immediately deterred from applying. The fact is, qualifying for Medicaid is not based upon your income alone. Income is but one of many considerations your state will take in determining your eligibility for Medicaid.
You will not know if you qualify for one of these programs until you at least take the time to apply. Since there is no limited enrollment period, you can apply at any time to see if you still qualify despite your income.
Look into Trusts to Help You Qualify
One option for someone who has an income that disqualifies them from Medicaid would be a trust. A trust works by allowing individuals with assets and income greater than the limit set by Medicaid to allocate some of their income to enter into a trust. The trust then gives the recipient and their spouse, if applicable, a small monthly income allowance.If the recipient dies, the trust will be used to pay Medicaid back for healthcare costs. There are a number of these trusts out there for you. Miller Trusts, Supplemental Needs Trusts and Special Needs Trusts are a few examples. Since the rules for trusts vary from state-to-state, it is recommended that you consult an attorney if pursuing this option.
Medicaid Spend down Programs
A Medicaid Spend-Down program is designed for individuals who might be over the income requirements for Medicaid. However they have high healthcare costs and are therefore deemed “medically needy.” If you are paying enough in healthcare costs to make your income fall below the income limit for Medicaid, you might qualify for the Medicaid Spend-Down program.
This program allows you to subtract your medical costs from your income, and in doing so, can make you eligible for Medicaid if the end figure is under the Medicaid income limits. There might be greater or fewer restrictions on this program depending on your state’s requirements, but in general, as an individual, you cannot have assets over $14,850 or as a couple over $21,750 to qualify.
On reaching the age of 65, seniors are eligible for Medicare. If their income is low enough to qualify for Medicaid also then they are “dual eligible.” Medicaid should pick up the costs of what Medicare does not pay for. However, since rules for Medicaid differ from state to state, check with your local social services office. They can tell you what benefits you may be entitled too.
Brief Review of Medicare
Briefly, there are four parts to the Medicare program. Specifically Parts A,B,C and D.
- Part A–no cost for most. Covers hospital costs, skilled nursing, Hospice and some home care.
- Part B–Has a premium. Covers visits to the Dr., lab work, preventive visits, surgery, some medical equipment and supplies.
- Part C–Costs vary. Also called Medicare Advantage. Provided by private insurance that have contracts with Medicare.
- Part D–Covers prescription medication.
What you pay for Medicare will be determined by the amount of coverage you need. Most seniors, even those with a low income purchase a private insurance to fill in the gap of what Medicare does not pay.
Private Health Insurance
You may have private health insurance through your employer. If so, when you retire this may or may not be part of your pension plan. In addition, private health insurance is sold to seniors under the name Medigap. Medigap insurance will help you to pay the deductible for Medicare. In addition, it will cover co-payments. Once Medicare pays its 80%, then your Medigap insurance will cover the rest.
More About Medigap
Do not confuse Medigap with Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage actually supplies benefits while Medigap supplements the Medicare benefits you have. Additionally, Medigap will not cover dental, vision or hearing care. Also, you can only purchase Medigap coverage if you have Parts A and B of Medicare. This is a seperate cost from your purchased Part B cost.
Options for Veterans
Military veterans have more options for health care. If you have served more than two years in the military, you may qualify for health care benefits. As a senior veteran, you qualify for both Medicare and health care from the VA. You can apply for the TRICARE program which is similar to a Medigap plan. It will pay for certain health care costs that are not covered by Parts A and B of Medicare.
Assisted living costs can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the costs related to this type of care. However, most of the states offer programs to assist or cover these costs for low income seniors. Check with your local social services office to point you in the right direction.
Partnership for Long Term Care
There is a program known as the Partnership for Long Term Care. It is currently available in 43 states. It combines private insurance with Medicaid coverage. This program may allow the senior to keep some of their assets while still receiving coverage.
PACE stands for Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly. It combines Medicare and Medicaid for senior. This program allows to senior to remain in his home while receiving long term nursing care. PACE is currently available in 28 states.