At some point during your retirement years, there is a good chance that you and/or your spouse will need long-term care and need to qualify for Medicaid. If you were fortunate enough to not need Medicaid during your working years, you may not know where to start if you suddenly need to qualify. In fact, you may not qualify if you did not include Medicaid planning in your estate plan. To help prepare you for the future, the Medicaid planning attorneys at Wilcox Attorneys, PA discuss navigating Medicaid eligibility for seniors in Arkansas.
Why Would I Suddenly Need to Qualify for Medicaid?
Before reaching retirement age, you may depend on employer-sponsored or privately purchased health insurance to cover medical bills. When you turn 65, you will likely be eligible for Medicare and, like most retirees, Medicare will cover most of your healthcare expenses after that time. What you may not give much thought to while you are young and healthy is the potential need for long-term care when you are older. Statistically, however, you (and your spouse if you are married) stand about a 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care (LTC) services after you reach retirement age (65).
The longer you live, the higher the odds are that you will need LTC, and you will quickly find that Medicare won’t cover LTC. For 2022, the average cost of a year in LTC in Arkansas was about $80,000. Imagine how fast you will go through your retirement savings if you have to pay that cost out-of-pocket! To avoid having to pay for LTC with your life savings, you need to be prepared to qualify for Medicaid because Medicaid does cover LTC expenses.
Arkansas Seniors and Medicaid Eligibility
The bad news about Medicaid and long-term care expenses is that qualifying for Medicaid can be problematic because of the Medicaid income and asset limits. Although Medicaid is predominantly funded by the federal government, each state administers its own Medicaid program. That means that the programs and the eligibility requirements can differ from state to state. Medicaid eligibility for seniors in Arkansas will depend on several factors.
While all Medicaid programs have income and asset limits, those requirements will differ, depending on the Medicaid program to which you apply. If your assets or income are over the limit, your application will be denied. You may be sent through Medicaid “spend-down” which effectively imposes a waiting period on you before you are eligible for Medicaid.
How Can Medicaid Planning Help?
The other important thing to know about Medicaid eligibility for seniors in Arkansas is that transferring assets at the last minute is not usually an option because of the “look-back” rules. Therefore, asset protection tools and strategies need to already be in place when you need to qualify for Medicaid. Including a Medicaid planning component in your estate plan now, while you are still years away from retirement, is the best way to protect your assets in the future.
Are You Ready to Discuss Medicaid Planning?
For additional information, please sign up for one of our FREE estate planning webinars. If you are ready to discuss Medicaid eligibility for seniors in Arkansas, contact the experienced Washington County, Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville, and Northwest Arkansas Medicaid planning attorneys at Wilcox Attorneys, PA by calling 479-443-0062 to schedule your appointment today.
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