If you are rapidly reaching retirement age and are concerned that you will not be able to keep your current healthcare coverage, you may be wondering whether either the Medicare or Medicaid program can help. Chances are that one or the other will certainly help with your healthcare costs; however, neither program is prefect.
Qualifying for Medicare is easy. Anyone over the age of 65, as well as some people under 65 with a disability, are automatically eligible for Medicare. Your income and assets are not factored in to a Medicare application. In addition, since the Medicare program is both funded and administered by the federal government, the benefits of the program are the same for everyone without respect to your state of residence. Medicare does, however, require that you pay a monthly premium and the coverage is generally less than the Medicaid program coverage.
Qualifying for Medicaid, on the other hand, depends in large part on your household income and assets. In addition, because Medicaid is both federally and state funded, but state administered, the limits as well as the benefits will be slightly different from one state to another. On the plus side, there are no monthly premiums to pay and the scope of the coverage is generally broader. If you feel that the Medicaid program is what you need, but you have income and/or assets that may prevent you from being accepted, consult with your estate planning attorney. There may be estate planning tools that can help structure your estate in a way that will allow you to qualify.