Lisa Conway – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: What is Medicaid planning?
A: Medicaid is a government-funded healthcare program that provides medical coverage to low-income individuals and families. Florida’s Medicaid program (through the Agency for Health Care Administration) covers a wide range of essential healthcare services, including doctor visits, hospital care, prescription drugs, and long-term care services. According to benefits.gov, Florida Medicaid applicants must be a resident of the state of Florida, a U.S. national, citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien in need of health care/insurance assistance — whose financial situation would be characterized as low income or very low income. You must also be (one of the following): Pregnant or responsible for a child 18 years of age or younger; or blind, or have a disability (or a family member in your household with a disability), or be 65 years of age or older.
Medicaid is designed to offer healthcare assistance to those in need. Applying for it proactively can be both wise and practical. Medicaid planning is not the same as Medicare planning, which focuses on a different program just for seniors.
What is Medicaid Planning?
Medicaid planning is the process of creating a plan to help an individual qualify for Medicaid, which, importantly for seniors, covers the costs of long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. The planning (ahead of the Medicaid application) can be as simple as helping with document collection and preparation — or as complicated as a complete re-structuring of an individual’s financial assets. For this reason, many seniors will visit an elder law attorney familiar with the process. These professionals can help clients structure their financial resources to ensure the greatest possibility of being accepted into the Medicaid program.
Applying for Medicaid before the immediate need arises can make strong financial sense, as medical expenses and long-term care costs in the U.S. can be exorbitant. Without proper protection, individuals may find themselves burdened with insurmountable debt.
Medicaid eligibility is based on strict income guidelines and other factors. With professional oversight, however, individuals can strategically arrange their finances to qualify for Medicaid assistance more easily. This can be especially beneficial for those on the cusp of eligibility, as they may require only slight adjustments to their income or assets to meet the program’s requirements.
Medicaid planning doesn’t have to be scary. For information or referral to an elder law attorney –or to attend the next free Medicaid planning seminar at One Senior Place, call 321-751-6771 in Viera.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.