If you would like to remain in your home as long as possible–sometimes called “aging in place“–Medicare will be of only limited help. Medicare pays for only a small amount of home care in situations where it would be difficult for you to leave home on your own and you require skilled nursing or therapy services. That said, Medicaid can be of enormous help if you qualify.
No matter where you live, if you qualify, Medicaid covers home and community-based services (HCBS). These services include coverage to fill gaps in Medicare and to allow you to remain in your home or a community-based setting, such as an assisted living facility. Medicaid provides services that Medicare will not cover. (Medicare always pays first if it covers the service.) How much care you get and the types of care you get depend upon the state you live in.
Medicaid services that Medicare does not cover include:
- Personal care, such as cooking or grocery-shopping
- Homemaker services, such as cleaning
- Home modifications
- Help with chores
- Case management
- Adult day care
Medicaid services that Medicare also covers, include:
How can you qualify for Medicaid HCBS? You should plan ahead and understand the rules in your state. You may be able to move some of your assets into a trust to help you qualify or spend down your income and assets if they are above the Medicaid eligibility threshold, depending upon where you live. You also may be able to set aside some money for your spouse, if you are married, to bring down your assets. If you own your home, you need to understand how the value of your home will affect your Medicaid eligibility.
Of course, you will need to meet your state’s eligibility requirements for Medicaid home and community-based services, which generally means that you need nursing home level care. Also, keep in mind that your state may have a limit on the number of people for whom it provides home and community-based services. If so, you may be put on a waiting list.
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