Saturday, May 29, 2010

Eldercare 101: Medicare, Medicaid Made Simple

No eldercare blog would be complete without posts on Medicare and Medicaid. Why? Most Boomers mix them up. I did when I entered the senior care field in 1994. These programs sound alike and are spelled alike. But they're as different as night and day.

Your aging parent almost certainly qualifies for Medicare. Virtually everyone over 65 is eligible, since it's funded through employment or self-employment taxes. I'll devote my next blog to explaining Medicare's various parts: A, B, C and D.

Medicaid, on the other hand, covers low-income seniors who have medical needs. Think "AID" for Medicaid. The program is administered by each state; rules and programs differ widely. In many states, a single person can have no more than $2000 in assets. In the case of a married couple, if one spouse needs care, the other spouse can often keep the home and some assets to avoid becoming impoverished.

Programs may include in-home help (i.e. transporting to doctor visits and grocery stores, preparing meals, assisting with bathing), as well as assisted living, adult family homes and skilled nursing homes. In many states, Medicaid covers services and costs Medicare doesn't pay for, including prescription drugs, preventive care and eyeglasses.

If your parent moves to an assisted living facility, an adult family home or a skilled nursing home under Medicaid, he or she will contribute his or her income toward the cost of the care, with the state returning a small amount (approximately $50) for his or her incidental expenses.

For specifics on Medicaid in your state, do a google search of "(your state) Medicaid." Or contact your local county social services, welfare or department of human services office.

For information on Medicare, see my next post.

Is there anything on Medicaid you'd like to add?

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