Many people feel confused about the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. That confusion can lead people to improper planning for their medical needs as they age. Adults over the age of 65, as well as those who receive Social Security Disability benefits, typically qualify for Medicare. Medicare is a special insurance program designed to protect older adults and provide cost-effective health care options.
Several years ago, after I had concluded an elder law presentation, an attorney in attendance approached me and recounted a conversation he had with the Director of Social Services for the nursing home where his mother was admitted (he was also a member of the Board of Directors for said nursing home). The Director explained to him that because his mother (a widow) had $500,000 in non IRA/retirement savings, she needed to pay the nursing home privately ("spend down") until she had no more than $14,000 in savings. He was further advised that only then would his mother be eligible for Medicaid. The attorney also told me that his mother had already expended $150,000 of the $500,000 on her care at the nursing home.
Having experienced firsthand for almost thirty years the ravages and cruelty inflicted by Alzheimer's, senile dementia, Parkinson's, ALS and MS upon individuals and their families, it can be particularly galling to learn that some have unnecessarily spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their long-term care as a result of misconceptions and/or misinformation they relied upon. The following are the most common and financially devastating misconceptions:
It is important to know the distinctions between Medicare and Medicaid. With more than 70 million "baby boomers" coming of age, a growing number are now asking the question. Here's a brief explanation: