How Can You Protect Your Assets When Applying for Medicaid in Texas?


Is It Time to Begin Medicaid Planning?

If your family needs to begin long-term healthcare planning for an older relative, or if it’s time to begin long-term healthcare planning for yourself, the first steps to take are learning the facts about Medicaid and discussing your situation with a Waco Medicaid planning attorney.

It is important to know the difference between the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for those who are 65 and older. It can provide limited, short-term medical coverage, but the Medicare program provides little long-term healthcare assistance.

What Does Medicaid Provide?

Medicaid – a combined federal and state medical assistance program – was established in 1965 and expanded in 2010. Medicaid provides coverage to more than 85 million elderly and disabled persons across the U.S. It offers long-term healthcare coverage that Medicare does not provide.

There is a means test, so not everyone will qualify for Medicaid, but you may not have to spend down all your assets in order to obtain the Medicaid benefits you may need. A Waco Medicaid planning lawyer can help you qualify by using one of several planning strategies

What is STAR+PLUS?

In Texas, STAR+PLUS is the state-managed Medicaid program for adults age 65 and older (and for disabled adults). Benefits include Medicaid healthcare and long-term services and support through a plan you choose. STAR+PLUS usually pays for services including but not limited to:

  1. home healthcare, nursing home care, and hospice care
  2. annual visits to your doctor
  3. chiropractic, speech, vision, dental, hearing, and podiatry services
  4. immunizations, x-rays, and prescriptions
  5. mental health services, physical therapy, and occupational therapy
  6. surgeries, hospital care, and emergency services

Why is Advance Medicaid Planning So Important?

Everyone knows that healthcare costs are high. The average cost of a private room in a Texas nursing home, for example, is more than $7,000 a month. For a semi-private room, the cost exceeds $5,000 a month. Medicaid can help, but you need to plan for Medicaid in advance.

Along with the requirements and income levels listed above, Medicaid enforces a five-year “lookback” period. Any assets incorrectly transferred or moves in the five years before you apply will be considered when the state determines your eligibility for Medicaid benefits.

No one can know what the future may bring. That’s why, even if you’re still a relatively young adult, it’s best to begin your Medicaid planning right away with the advice and assistance of a Waco Medicaid planning attorney.

How Can You Protect Your Assets and Still Qualify for Medicaid Benefits?

If your income exceeds Medicaid’s income limit, a Texas Medicaid planning lawyer may recommend one of several options for helping you maintain your Medicaid eligibility.

Your lawyer may recommend preparing a Qualified Income Trust (also called a “Miller” Trust) or a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust. With a Qualifying Income Trust, any income you earn beyond the monthly Medicaid limit is moved into the trust to maintain your Medicaid eligibility.

Giving away some of your assets – “gifting” – may also be an effective planning strategy, but your gifting must be guided by an attorney’s advice. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a situation where you’ve given away assets but you are still not eligible for Medicaid benefits.

Frankly, Medicaid’s five-year lookback period means that you should establish a trust and/or plan your donations and gifts as soon as possible. However, establishing a trust may not be the right option for you. There is no single approach to Medicaid planning that is right for everyone.

Why Should You Work With an Attorney?

A Waco Medicaid planning lawyer will discuss all of your alternatives for Medicaid planning. Your lawyer will recommend the options that are right for you and prepare a personalized Medicare plan that protects your assets and meets your healthcare needs.

Specifically, your planning attorney will work with you to prepare a plan that reorganizes the legal ownership of your assets and ensures that a significant portion of your assets will not be counted toward your eligibility for Medicaid benefits.

If you prepare a trust, your lawyer can ensure that the language of the trust is easy to understand and that the trust complies with both federal and state law. Your lawyer will also ensure that nothing is overlooked and that you have thoughtfully and thoroughly considered your options.

Who Can You Depend on for Medicaid Planning Advice?

Your Medicaid planning attorney will also help you review your plan on a regular basis and help you keep it updated. Occasionally, you may need to revise your Medicaid plan due to changes in the Medicaid regulations or due to changes in your own family, personal, or financial situation.

Peace of mind about the future starts with contacting the right planning lawyer. But how can you locate a lawyer who provides the insights and planning advice that you need? Rainey & Rainey will help you and your loved ones with every aspect of your Medicaid planning.

To learn more or to begin the Medicaid planning process now, contact the offices of Rainey & Rainey by calling 254-752-8644 (in the Waco area) or 512-598-9005
(in or near Georgetown). We work for families and clients across the state of Texas, and we are ready to work for you.

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