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3 things to know about Medicaid before going into a nursing home

Nursing Home Medicaid Qualifications

You may not know much about Medicaid other than that only those with limited income qualify. However, if you believe you may move into a nursing home or want to plan for that eventuality as you age, you need to learn a bit about how Medicaid operates.

Without advance planning, you may not get benefits when you need them, or you may endanger the inheritance that you have spent your entire life setting aside for your children and grandchildren. What do you need to know about Medicaid as you start making your plans for the future?

Medicaid will go back over your finances

The Florida Medicaid program doesn’t just care about your current income and the assets you own when you apply. The professionals that work for the state will go back over 60 months or five years’ worth of financial transactions, including transfers into trusts and gifts to family members or charitable organizations.

Any sizable transfers in the years before you apply could result in a penalty. You might have to pay for many months of your own care despite not having any assets if you fail to plan ahead for the application process.

Your house doesn’t count against you

If there’s one perk of applying for Medicaid it is that the equity you have built up in your primary residence will not prevent you from getting benefits, regardless of your home’s value. Although other assets, including vacation homes and vehicles, could keep you from qualifying, your home is not going to count against you. However, it could be vulnerable to claims by Medicaid after you die.

Medicaid wants you to pay back your benefits

When older adults receive nursing home care or other medical support that Medicaid pays for, the state will try to recoup whatever money was spent on that person’s care after they die. The Medicaid estate recovery program will bring a claim against your estate for the full value of any of the benefits that you received.

The state can force your estate to liquidate all of the property you leave behind if necessary for debt repayment. It is only through careful planning years before you apply for benefits that you can protect your assets from claims and qualify quickly for Medicaid if you need to move into a nursing home as you age.

Learning more about Medicaid and other elder law concerns can help those preparing for retirement.