What is the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid? Answers from a South Jersey Elder Lawyer

Female hands with health care words isolated on white

Though most people have heard of Medicare and Medicaid, for many the terms are vague and have little application to their lives.  People know that both are social insurance programs provided by the government, but unless they have a specific need they rarely know more than that, and have a difficult time differentiating between the two. However, as people age and begin to look to their future, they realize that both Medicare and Medicaid may have importance to them. As compassionate South Jersey elder lawyers, the law firm of Bratton Scott prides itself on being able to carefully explain the differences between the two programs to our clients seeking financial and legal advice as they age. If you have questions or need assistance in planning for the future, we are here to help. We will provide you with a strong understanding of the difference between the two, as well as with other essential information for the future.

The first thing that you need to understand is that although Medicare and Medicaid may sound very similar, the two are very different. Medicare is a program that is provided by the federal government, and which is available to everybody who is 65 or older or who has a severe disability. There are no income qualifications for Medicare. Medicaid, on the other hand, is administered on both a state and federal level, and is meant only for those who are extremely low income and assets.

Many people who have achieved success in their lives, whether moderate or extensive, automatically assume that Medicaid is something that will have no application or meaning to their lives. However, it is important to remember that Medicare does not cover nursing home care beyond limited circumstances and periods of time.  Medicaid does cover these types of expenses, but only once the person in need of the care has spent enough of their personal assets to qualify. Unfortunately, people end up using all of the assets that they have accumulated throughout their lives to pay for care until the Medicaid support is available.

In order to be eligible for Medicaid, applicants are limited to no more than $2,000 in “countable” assets, which represents a need to spend down almost all of the assets that a person has.  In lieu of going through this difficult process and in order to preserve a lifetime worth of savings and property, many people choose to protect their savings through careful estate planning. By planning ahead, it is possible to preserve what you have worked so hard for and keep them for when you no longer need care, or for your loved ones’ benefit in the future.

Estate planning and Elder Law is a complex process that requires expertise in a wide range of legal areas. In South Jersey, the attorneys of Bratton Scott are compassionate and knowledgeable in Medicaid planning, as well as other areas that may benefit you as you plan for your future. To learn more about how we can be of service, contact our office today to set up a convenient appointment.

Learn more about our Medicaid Planning Services HERE.