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How does Medicaid Help if I need a Nursing Home?
Will a living Trust Protect my estate if u have to go to a nursing home?

No! Many people think that putting their assets into a Revocable Living Trust will help them qualify for Medicaid because the assets would no longer be titled in their name. Because a Living Trust is revocable and under your complete control you have not "given anything away." The assets are still available.

Nursing home care is expensive. The average cost is close to $50,000 a year. Like many people, you may think Medicare pays for it, but unfortunately it does not. Medicare covers only short periods of skilled nursing home care after a hospital stay.

How many people manage the cost of nursing homes?

Many nursing home residents have to pay the full cost of their care when they are admitted but they deplete their savings and other assets by paying for care. As a result, they will eventually qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid helps people with low incomes pay for medical bills. Medicaid is not the same as Medicare. Both programs provide health coverage, but Medicaid provides health coverage for people of all ages whose incomes are low.

Medicaid is a federally funded health care program that was created to provide health care services for the poor. It also pays for an unlimited number of days in a nursing care facility. This benefit appeals to many people. However, in order to qualify for Medicaid you can only have a certain amount of assets and receive a certain amount of income.

As a result you have two choices. Spend your assets, or give them away. If you transfer or give away your assets, to avoid triggering a "period of ineligibility," you must wait a minimum of 36 months and one day before applying for Medicaid. If transfers are made to or from a Trust the look-back period is 60 months and one day. To apply for Medicaid benefits before the mandated waiting period has expired will trigger a period of ineligibility and makes you subject to possible criminal sanctions.

In August 1996 former President Clinton signed into law the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Under the law if you decide to qualify for Medicaid by transferring assets you had better do the transfers correctly or suffer stiff consequences. Specifically Section 217 Article 6 of the law states, that effective January 1, 1997:

"(6) Whosoever knowingly and willfully disposes of assets (including any transfer in trust) in order for an individual to become eligible for medical assistance under a State plan title XIX, if disposing of the assets results in a period of ineligibility for such assistance under section 1917 (c),

shall be (i) guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years of both, or (ii) be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof fined not more than $10,000 and imprisoned for not more than one year, or both."

Before you do anything about tryimg to quality for Medicaid,consult with an attorney who specialized in Elder Law.

Remember an alternative to Medicaid is long-term care insurance, which one would purchase to pay for the costs of long term care.

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