A lot of people think of Medicaid as being a federal program that is in place to assist people who have financial need get the medical treatment that they need. They assume that everything that senior citizens require is going to be taken care of by Medicare. The reality is that this is only partially true. Howard Gleckman, who is a Resident Fellow at the Urban Institute, recently published an article in the Kaiser Health News that shed some interesting light on how heavily senior citizens actually rely on Medicaid.
A lot of people are not aware of the fact that Medicare does not cover everything once you become eligible. If you need to stay in a long-term care facility or if you require long-term in-home care you’re going to have to meet these expenses out-of-pocket, and they are considerable to say the least. At the present time you’re looking at over six figures on average for a year residing in a private room in a nursing home in the state of New York.
Many seniors turn to Medicaid because it does in fact pay for long-term care if you can qualify for it. There is an upper resource threshold of $2000, but your home, your vehicle, and some of your personal possessions are not considered countable for Medicaid purposes. Plus, the healthy spouse of someone who is entering long-term care can keep half of the community assets up to $109,560.
Medicaid uses two thirds of its budget assisting disabled people and senior citizens. One third of its budget is used to pay for long-term care expenses for senior citizens. So it is clear that any cuts to Medicaid would have to impact senior citizens.
Right now we have a congressional super committee hatching a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Both the president and the House of Representatives have suggested huge cuts to the Medicaid system, so nobody would be surprised if the super committee cut Medicaid.
Whether we like it or not, we are living during times when federal programs for seniors are under siege. If you want to be ready for any and all contingencies as you reach the latter stages of your life you would do well to make sure that you have the personal resources to pay your own way. If you would like to start mapping out a strategy, take action and arrange for a consultation with an experienced elder law attorney.