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How can people help their aging parents plan to secure Medicaid?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Medicaid

Many older adults in Ohio rely on Medicare coverage after they retire. Medicare coverage is often crucial for those who no longer work full-time. They lose employment health insurance when they retire in most cases and likely could not afford the cost of paying out of pocket for a policy during their retirement years.

Although older adults often trust that Medicare can help them get necessary treatment, there are major shortfalls to the Medicare program. Not only do adults have to worry about the cost of prescription medications, but they may also need to plan ahead for long-term care expenses. Older adults in Ohio may need to apply for Medicaid coverage if they must move into a nursing home or if they require nursing support as they age in place in their homes.

Realizing that parents may need Medicaid eventually can leave someone worried about their parents’ future care. How can members of the sandwich generation helping their parents plan for retirement assist them with Medicaid planning?

Encourage planning before benefits are necessary

The most important step someone can take when concerned about their parents’ eligibility for Medicaid is to encourage advance planning. Frequently, older adults wait until they need benefits to look at their ability to qualify. At that point, they may be at risk of a sizable penalty that delays their benefits for multiple months. Transfers and gifts made in the five years before someone’s application could trigger a penalty. Therefore, those who plan long before their health begins to decline are in the best position to get benefits quickly.

Talk about legacy concerns

Parents might downplay the need to plan for Medicaid because they don’t worry much about their own health as they age. However, they may feel more strongly about the legacy that they leave for their children or grandchildren. The Ohio Medicaid program makes claims against people’s estates after they die. Families may have to liquidate someone’s remaining assets, possibly including the home where they lived, to pay back the benefits they received. It is only through advance planning that people can protect resources and the legacy they aspire to leave for their loved ones.

Talking with one’s parents about Medicaid planning can be an uncomfortable discussion. Adults who understand the limits of Medicare and the rules for Medicaid may have an easier time broaching a complicated topic with their aging parents.