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Planning for end-of-life or current health care: Medicaid

In today's health care environment, coverage of any type can be expensive and the amount you pay is determined in part by your income. While you might be able to afford health care now, affording it in the future could be stressful. Most people are relying on Medicare and other provisions to help with health care costs in old age, but the quickly changing political climate means you have to plan ahead.

One way many people plan ahead is to do Medicaid planning. Whether you need coverage now or believe you might need Medicaid coverage in the future, you first have to understand eligibility requirements. Each state has different eligibility requirements. For individuals who are not disabled or otherwise incapacitated, the main requirement tends to be income level.

Each state Medicaid program sets an income level at which an individual — child or adult — might be covered by Medicaid. Some states, including ours, do offer some programs for adults. If your current access to income or assets exceeds Medicaid limits, you are not eligible for the coverage.

In some cases, you can manage your assets to create eligibility, especially if you are just on the line. One way to do this is to place assets in certain types of trusts. These arrangements make them exempt under Medicaid, which means they are not counted when Medicaid programs make an income determination.

Because Medicaid and estate laws are so complex, it is easy to cross a legal line if you don't understand the requirements in depth. Working with someone with experience helps you plan for the future while maintaining legal status regarding your health and financial decisions.

Source: 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, American Institute of CPAs, "Medicaid Planning Basics," accessed Oct. 23, 2015

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