Caregivers and seniors who are looking ahead to senior housing needs, may be leaning towards the federal and state government program known as Medicaid.
Unlike the short-term program of Medicare, Medicaid will pay for long-term care needs, including senior housing needs, for qualifying individuals. In order to qualify for Medicaid, you need to have limited income, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The Medicaid program is funded by the federal and state governments, but is administered by each state. While there are some services all Medicaid programs are required to offer, other services are optional and determined by each state. Each state also has different income and asset eligibility requirements. A comprehensive list of eligibility guidelines and Medicaid offerings by state may be viewed in the Medicaid At-A-Glance brochure.
What You Can Own
Medicaid has strict income and asset eligibility requirements, with limits sometimes set as low as $2,000, according to the Massachusetts Medicaid Services. There are some assets seniors are allowed to maintain without affecting their Medicaid eligibility, including a home and a vehicle.
Senior Housing Covered by Medicare
Similar to Medicare, Medicaid covers in-patient hospital services. Medicaid may also cover senior housing in Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), or nursing homes. Medicaid also covers home health care, which can help seniors age in place.
Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
A small percentage of seniors will be eligible for the government's Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Seniors who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid and, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "meet their State's standards for nursing home care" are eligible for PACE.
PACE provides the elderly with a multitude of senior housing options. PACE participants may choose to age at home and receive comprehensive in-home services or they may utilize an in-patient facility including a nursing home. PACE also gives caregivers the option of sending the senior off to an adult day health center or adult day care center during the hours when the primary caregiver may be working. Only some states offer the PACE program.
In addition to income limits, states set asset limits when determining Medicaid eligibility. Another requirement for Medicaid coverage is U.S. citizenship. All senior caregivers and seniors, particularly those facing high medical bills, should apply for Medicaid.
Caregivers may check for Medicaid eligibility at Govbenefits.gov and BenefitsCheckUp.org.
Contact information for state offices is provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, at http://cms.hhs.gov.