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7 Common Myths About Medicaid in Florida

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7 Common Myths About Medicaid in Florida

June 15, 2024
Geoff Hoatson

Are you a Florida senior with hard-earned assets, wondering how Medicaid might fit into your long-term care plans? You're not alone. Medicaid can be a vital lifeline for many seniors, but there's also a lot of confusion and misinformation out there. You might have heard that Medicaid is only for the very poor, that it will force you to spend down all your assets, or that it's not relevant until your health declines. 

But the truth is, Medicaid rules are complex, and what you've heard from friends or family might not apply to your specific situation in Florida. As a senior with assets, you could have more options than you realize to protect your wealth while still getting the care you need. 

In this blog, we'll debunk seven common myths about Medicaid. From understanding how your home factors into eligibility to learning about the importance of timely planning, we'll help you separate fact from fiction. Armed with this knowledge, you can make more informed decisions about your long-term care plan and financial future. 

So, whether you're already retired or just starting to think about your senior years, read on to uncover the truth behind these common Medicaid myths. Your financial well-being and peace of mind could depend on it.

Myth 1: You Have to Deplete All Your Assets to Qualify for Medicaid in Florida

You may think you need to spend down all your hard-earned savings before you can get Medicaid coverage for long-term care in Florida. Fortunately, that's not the case. While Florida Medicaid does have asset limits, a knowledgeable Medicaid Planning lawyer can help you structure your assets to maximize eligibility without leaving you penniless. 

With proper planning, you can protect your nest egg and ensure you, not the state, control what happens to your assets. Don't let the misconception that Medicaid requires poverty deter you from getting the care you need.

Myth 2: Giving Away Your Assets to Family Makes You Ineligible for Medicaid

You might worry that giving assets to your children or grandchildren means you won't qualify for Medicaid. While Florida does have rules around asset transfers, that doesn't mean you can't pass on any of your wealth to your loved ones.

In Florida, Medicaid looks at any assets you've given away in the 5 years before applying, known as the "look-back period." However, with timely planning, you can transfer some assets outside of this window without triggering penalties. And certain transfers, like to a disabled child, are exempt from penalties regardless of timing.

The bottom line? Work with a Florida Medicaid Planning attorney well before you need long-term care. They can help you transfer assets the right way to protect your eligibility and your family's inheritance.

Myth 3: Getting Medicaid Means Losing Your Florida Home

You may fear that Medicaid will force you to sell your cherished home, but that's usually not true in Florida. For many seniors, their house is exempt from Medicaid's asset calculation, within certain equity limits.

If you're single, your home is exempt as long as you intend to return there, up to an equity value of $713,000 in 2024. If you're married and your spouse continues living in the house, it's exempt regardless of value. Some situations, like having a disabled child in the home, also warrant an exemption. 

A Florida lawyer for Medicaid can assess your circumstances and help you understand your options to protect your home and get Medicaid when you need it.

Myth 4: Having Medicare Means You Don't Need to Worry About Medicaid

You might assume that Medicare will cover all your health needs as a senior, but when it comes to long-term care, that's not the case. Medicare's coverage of nursing home and in-home care is quite limited, typically only covering short rehab stays.

If you need extended long-term care, Medicaid is the primary payer. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid covers ongoing nursing home care and in-home services for those who qualify. Don't make the mistake of thinking Medicare is sufficient – understand how Medicaid fits into your long-term care plan.

Myth 5: Qualifying for Medicaid Dooms Your Spouse to Poverty

You may worry that if you need Medicaid, your spouse will be left with nothing to live on. Rest assured, there are spousal impoverishment protections to prevent this.

If you go into a nursing home and your spouse remains at home, Medicaid allows your spouse to keep a portion of your joint assets and income. In 2024, the "community spouse" can retain up to $154,140 in assets beyond the home, car, and personal items. The community spouse can also receive a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) of $2,555, which can be increased if their housing and utility costs exceed a certain standard, but the total monthly income they can retain cannot exceed $3,853.50.

A Medicaid Planning lawyer can also help you maximize your spouse's resources through smart asset allocation, a Qualified Income Trust, proper estate planning, and more. Your spouse shouldn't have to sacrifice their security for you to get care.

Myth 6: Florida Medicaid Won't Pay for Care at Home

You might think Medicaid in Florida only pays for nursing home care, but that's not true. Florida Medicaid can also cover long-term care services at home or in assisted living through the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Long-Term Care Program. This program helps seniors age in place in the least restrictive setting possible. It can pay for care coordination, home health aides, adult day care, home modifications, and more.  

However, the program does have enrollment caps, so planning ahead is crucial. If you wait until you're in a crisis to apply, you may face a waitlist. Consult a Medicaid Planning lawyer early to understand your options for getting Medicaid coverage at home.

Myth 7: When You Die, Medicaid Will Take Your Home

You may have heard that Medicaid will seize your house after your death to recoup your care costs, but that's an oversimplification. While Florida does pursue "estate recovery" against homes and other assets that pass through probate, there are many circumstances in which your home can be protected.

For example, if you have a spouse, child under 21, or blind or disabled child of any age living in the home, the state can't recover against the house. Proper Medicaid Planning, such as putting the home in an irrevocable trust, can also shield it. Don't let fear of losing your home prevent you from seeking Medicaid when you need it. 

The Importance of Working with a Florida Medicaid Planning Lawyer

The complexities of Florida Medicaid can be challenging to understand, but a Florida Medicaid Planning lawyer can provide the guidance and support you need. They can be a valuable partner, helping you navigate the process, qualify for benefits, and protect your hard-earned assets. Here's how an attorney can assist you:

  • Determining Your Medicaid Eligibility: Florida's Medicaid rules are complex, with strict income and asset limits. An attorney can analyze your unique financial situation and help you understand what it takes to qualify. 
  • Preparing Your Medicaid Application: Applying for Medicaid involves extensive paperwork and documentation. An experienced attorney can ensure your application is complete and accurate, increasing your odds of prompt approval. 
  • Implementing Asset Protection Strategies: From setting up trusts to timing asset transfers correctly, a Medicaid Planning lawyer can employ legal tools to safeguard your resources and secure your family's future. 
  • Defending Against Medicaid Denials: If your Medicaid application is denied, an attorney can identify the reason, gather evidence for an appeal, and represent you in hearings to fight for the benefits you need. 
  • Providing Ongoing Counsel: Medicaid rules and your circumstances can change over time. Your attorney can keep you updated and adjust your plan as needed to maintain your eligibility and protection.

Consult a skilled Florida lawyer for Medicaid to understand your rights and start preparing for a more secure future.

Don't Let Medicaid Myths Stand in the Way of Your Future

You've worked hard to build your assets and create a legacy for your loved ones. Now, as you consider the possibility of needing long-term care, you may be worried about how to pay for it without losing everything you've earned. You might have heard myths about Medicaid that make you hesitant to explore your options, but don't let these misconceptions hold you back.

At Family First Firm, our knowledgeable Medicaid Planning lawyers are here to help you separate fact from fiction. We understand the complexities of Florida Medicaid and can guide you through the process of securing benefits while protecting your assets. Our dedicated team will work with you to create a personalized plan that addresses your unique needs and concerns.

Schedule your consultation today to discuss your options and learn how we can help you secure the coverage you require while safeguarding your hard-earned assets. So, if you’ve been searching online for “Medicaid Planning attorneys near me,” connect with Family First Firm instead by calling (407) 574-8125. If more convenient, you can complete our online form to take the first step towards the peace of mind that comes from knowing your financial future is secure.

Protect Your Legacy. Contact Family First Firm – Your Elder Law Experts. 

Copyright © 2024. Family First Firm - Medicaid & Elder Law Attorneys. All rights reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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