Like many people, you may have made it through the majority of your working years without ever needing to turn to Medicaid for help with your healthcare expenses because you have been fortunate enough to be covered by employer sponsored or private health insurance coverage. As such, you may know nothing more than the basics about the Medicaid program. More importantly, you may not know why you would ever need Medicaid, much less need a Medicaid lawyer. This, however, is one of those situations where what you do not know could hurt you because there is a very good chance that you will need both Medicaid and a Medicaid lawyer in the near future.
Why Would I Need Medicaid?
The need to qualify for Medicaid is related to the need to cover the high cost of long-term care (LTC). As you age, the likelihood of needing LTC increases dramatically. When you enter your retirement years, around age 65, you stand about a 50 percent chance of eventually needing LTC. If you are married, your spouse has the same odds. The longer you live, the more those odds increase. If you are still here at age 85, your odds will have increased to a 75 percent chance of one day needing LTC, and the cost of that care will be high. Nationwide, the average monthly cost of LTC runs about $6,500, or just over $80,000 per year. In the State of Illinois, the average monthly cost runs just under the national average at about $6,000 per month, or about $72,000 per year. With an average length of stay of 2.5 years, that means that an average LTC bill will come in at about $175,000 in Illinois today and the cost of LTC is expected to continue to rise in the years to come.
The biggest problem with the high cost of LTC, however, is that neither your basic health insurance coverage nor Medicare will cover it. Unless you purchased separate LTC insurance, it is unlikely that your health care plan with pay for the expenses related to LTC. Medicare only covers LTC under very limited circumstances – and even then, only for a short period of time. Therefore, unless you can afford to pay for LTC expenses out of pocket, you will likely end up turning to Medicaid for help if you do end up in LTC.
How Can a Medicaid Lawyer Help?
At this point, you may understand why you might need Medicaid; however, the need for a Medicaid lawyer remains unclear. To clear that up, you need to understand more about qualifying for Medicaid. Because Medicaid is intended to cover low income individuals and families, there are strict income and asset limits that cannot be exceeded by applicants. With an asset, or “countable resources,” limit of as low as $2,000 it should not be surprising that many seniors don’t initially qualify. If your assets exceed the program limit, Medicaid will impose a waiting period during which time you will be expected to “spend-down” your assets. In reality, this means you are expected to liquidate your assets and use the money to cover your LTC expenses during the waiting period. If losing the assets you spent a lifetime working hard to acquire doesn’t sound appealing to you, it is time to talk about Medicaid planning. A Medicaid lawyer can help you incorporate Medicaid planning strategies and tools into your estate plan now so that you don’t have to lose hard-earned assets down the road. Working with a Medicaid lawyer well ahead of time can ensure your eligibility for Medicaid if you need it down the road and protect the retirement nest egg you spent a lifetime building.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the need for Medicaid and/or how a Medicaid lawyer can help you with Medicaid planning, contact the experienced Illinois Medicaid planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.