Statistics tell us that two out of every five senior citizens over the age of 65 will need long-term care at some point in their life. Once you reach the age of 80 your odds of needing long-term care increase to three out of four. With the cost of long-term care averaging $75,000 a year it is no surprise that more and more older Americans are turning to the Medicaid program to cover the costs associated with long-term care. If you (or a loved one) suddenly needs the benefits offered by the Medicaid program you may be concerned about how soon you can get Medicaid.
First, it is important to understand a little about the Medicaid program and why you might need to qualify for benefits. Medicaid and Medicare are often confused. Medicare is a federally funded and administered healthcare program that almost everyone over the age of 65 in the United States received automatically. Medicaid, while also a federally funded program is state administered, explaining why there are differences among the states with regard to eligibility rules and benefits available. All Medicaid programs, however, cover at least some of the costs associated with long-term care unlike the Medicare program which covers none of the costs of long-term care. Medicaid is not an entitlement program, meaning you do not automatically qualify based on your age or earnings record. Instead, you must apply and meet the eligibility criteria to be eligible for benefits. The application process for Medicaid often takes as long as 30 days; however, that does not mean your immediate bills will not be covered by Medicaid.
When you apply for Medicaid you will be asked if you have any medical or hospital bills covering the prior 90 days. If you are ultimately approved for Medicaid benefits the program may cover bills that were incurred up to 90 days prior to your application date. The amount of time it takes to actually be approved for Medicaid can vary; however, if all your documentation is timely submitted you should have a response to your application within about 30 days.
The rules for Medicaid eligibility can be confusing; however, one thing remains constant – income and assets limits. All Medicaid programs require recipients to have income and assets below a set limit to qualify. These limits are usually very low – as low as $2,000 in assets, for example. For the elderly the asset limit can be a bar to approval for much needed benefits.
If you, or a loved one, suddenly needs to qualify for Medicaid benefits you should consult with an experienced Oregon estate planning attorney to find out if there are any Medicaid strategies you can employ to help protect assets and ensure approval of benefits.
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