What is Medicare, What is Medicaid and What is the Difference?

If you are on social security you probably have Medicare Part B premiums taken out of your social security check each month. This is just like other health insurance where you pay a monthly premium and when you go to the doctor you have Medicare deductibles and co-pays. This covers most of a retired person’s medical bills but not prescription drugs. Therefore many people purchase a Medicare Supplement which pays the Medicare deductibles and co-pays. Blue-Cross Blue-Shield, AARP and Humana, among others are companies who sell this type of Medicare Supplemental Insurance. In addition many retired persons have purchased a Medicare Part D insurance which covers the expenses of prescription drugs. Again Medicare Part D insurance has deductibles and co-pays which you pay out of pocket. In summary Medicare is a health insurance with monthly insurance premiums. Medicaid is different. Medicaid is an entitlement program. You must apply for and qualify for Medicaid. There are income limitations and asset limitations so your qualification is not automatic. Most people qualify income wise but do not qualify asset wise. If you are single and want to qualify for Medicaid to pay for your nursing home costs you can own a home, a car and $2,000 in money and other assets. Most people have more money than this. Most will need to do some planning and get some advice to help them arrange their affairs so they qualify as quickly as possible. Taking just two or three months to figure all this Medicaid stuff out can cost a person $4,000 to $5,000 per month in nursing home bills. Therefore a mistake in applying for Medicaid can cost a person $8,000 or $12,000 or more because they had one asset too many and now they have to start the application process all over. In the mean time they must continue to pay the Nursing Home $4,000 to $5,000 per month. The learning curve can get very expensive which can make hiring an Elder Law Firm look very economical.

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