This is a very good question. Many people assume that Medicare will take care of all their health care needs when they are old enough to obtain eligibility. However, Medicare does NOT pay for long-term care. Under certain circumstances, Medicaid WILL pay for the long-term care that you would receive in a nursing home.
A stay in a nursing home is extremely expensive. According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2019, the median cost of a Semi-Private room in an Arkansas nursing home is $5,505 per month. It should be noted that the average length of stay is 12 months and married couples should prepare for two sets of nursing home bills.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services maintains a very useful website called LongTermCare.gov. According to their research, 70 percent of all Americans who live to the age of 65 will need some form of Long Term Services and Support.
The answer is complicated and depends on several factors including the type of Medicaid you are applying for, whether you are Single, Married with both spouses applying, or Married with one spouse applying. Also, there are assets that are “countable” and those that are “exempt.” It is important you work with a Medicaid planning professional to determine what the asset limits are for your circumstances.
Arkansas has a 60 month (5 year) “look-back period.” During this time frame, Medicaid checks all past asset transfers (including asset transfers made by one’s spouse) to ensure no assets were sold or given away under fair market value. If you fail to comply with this rule, you are not permanently ineligible, but eligibility would be delayed. The duration of the penalty would be tied to the amount that you gave away as it compares to the cost of nursing home care in Arkansas. Simply put, if you gave away enough to pay for 12 months of nursing home care, your eligibility for Medicaid would be delayed by one year.
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