When Medicaid Will Pay for Long-Term Care
- By Bob Carlson
- Published November 20th, 2009
Many people still expect that government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, will pay for their long-term care needs. Unfortunately, these programs provide limited assistance for long-term care needs.
Medicare, the program for those 65 and older, has restricted coverage for stays at long-term care facilities. The coverage generally is only for brief periods of rehabilitation after surgery or injuries. Medicare pays only about 15% of national nursing home expenses. It does not pay much of the cost for those in assisted living facilities or receiving home health care.
Medicaid offers extended long-term care coverage and pays about 45% of total nursing home expenses. But to receive the coverage you must meet the Medicaid asset limits. This generally means you must be impoverished by Medicaid standards. There are strategies people use to qualify for Medicaid, but they became less practical after changes in the law about 10 years ago and even less practical after a 2005 law. Now, it is difficult to qualify for Medicaid without impoverishing yourself long before any coverage is needed.
Medicaid is a joint federal-state program. There are umbrella federal rules, but the states are allowed to add to them by making eligibility more restrictive. You have to know not only the federal rules but any modifications your state makes. This post reviews the federal rules and some state variations.
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