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Senior eligibility for Medicaid

Medicaid is a health insurance program for individuals based on financial eligibility. The program is funded by both the federal and state governments. Medicaid health care is attractive to seniors because it pays for long-term health care, whereas Medicare does not.

When you turn 65, you are automatically eligible for Medicare. If you have a separate long-term care insurance policy, you may be okay with having Medicare during your retirement years. However, if you have not done any long-term care planning, you might find yourself in a bind should your health deteriorate.

What are the qualifications for Medicaid?

To be eligible for Medicaid, your monthly income must be less than $2,205, and your assets must not exceed $2,000. If your money and funds exceed these amounts, an elder law attorney can help you with Medicaid planning. Colorado law allows you to put excess earnings and assets in a trust or other fund where it can be excluded from being counted.

Do you have to give up your house to qualify for Medicaid?

No. As long as your house's equity is less than $560,000, you can keep your principal residence.

What type of long-term health care coverage does Medicaid provide?

Medicaid pays for nursing home care, rehabilitation, adult day care and local transportation assistance. Long-term care in a nursing home covers you for as long as needed as long as you continue to qualify, even if it is until death.

Medicaid is not just for the poor. Even if you and your spouse have made a good living and saved for retirement, the need for nursing home or long-term care for either one of you can quickly deplete your life's savings.

Another thing you should know is that transferring funds or assets to your beneficiaries to qualify for Medicaid should be done before the need arises. Medicaid has a five-year "look-back" law. They will look back at your financial status over the past five years. However, there are laws, such as the spousal poverty protection law that, in the case of a senior requiring nursing home care, allows a couple to keep up to 50 percent of their assets.

Source: Caregiver List, "Colorado Medicaid Eligibility Requirements For Seniors," accessed Dec. 26, 2017

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