Medicare And Medicaid: What's The Difference?

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If you have elderly parents, don’t wait to learn about Medicaid — sometimes referred to by a litany of other state names, like Medi-Cal and MassHealth. By any name, this is government insurance for people who have very little money that covers, among other things, the cost of home care and nursing home care when a recipient can no longer care for himself.

Sometimes it seems like you need a PhD. in government bureaucracy to understand the fine print of Medicare and Medicaid. We will look at differences from a third-grade level. If you want the “Doctorate” version, however, speak to a qualified elder law attorney.

Since you may be called upon to decipher Medicaid for your parents, be sure to read a recent Forbes article titled “Medicaid And Your Parents: The Basics.”

In general (third-grade) terms, Medicare is regulated totally by the federal government, and Medicaid is a joint program of both federal and state. The federal government sets the Medicaid guidelines, but the states will establish their own rules and programs within those boundaries.

Medicaid is “means-tested.” To qualify for Medicaid, an individual’s monthly income has to be below $2,000 or $3,000. His or her assets (not including a home, personal belongings, a car, and some other items) cannot be worth more than $2,000 to $15,000.

Remember: each state has its own threshold, within limits. In addition, the rules can vary not only by state, but also in some instances by county.

Sound complicated? It is. Talk to an elder law attorney who specializes in this area to get the right answers and to discuss your specific situation.

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Reference: Forbes (February 11, 2014): “Medicaid And Your Parents: The Basics”

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