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Medicare and Medicaid are both government-provided programs that pay for medical and health expenses for the elderly and disabled. Beyond that, the two programs are distinct and follow different rules and regulations. It’s important that you understand these differences.

Medicare is health insurance for the elderly and disabled provided by the Federal government. It covers expenses related to primary care, short-term illness or injury, acute care and rehabilitation. Many people believe that Medicare will also cover long-term nursing care if they need it. This is not true.

Medicaid covers medical services outside of those covered by Medicare, and provides benefits for those needing long-term care who are chronically ill, injured or disabled, and who qualify financially under the Medicaid laws and regulations. Medicaid will assist people who have difficulties with performing the activities of daily living,such as bathing, dressing, eating, and going to the toilet, as well as those who need skilled nursing care. Benefits include in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. Medicaid also covers most medical expenses that are not covered by Medicare or other insurance.

Medicaid is a federal, state, and locally funded program, and the rules regarding eligibility and implementation vary widely from state to state. The application process is complicated and can be confusing. Those who are unfamiliar with the process often find their efforts unrewarded. In order to avoid costly delays or outright denial, it is advisable to work with an experienced elder law firm, such as Lamson & Cutner, licensed in your state to help you with the process.

Medicaid eligibility for those 65 years of age and older is based on your resources (essentially financial assets and real estate), while eligibility for those under 65 can be based on having a low income. Even if you think you have too much money or property, or income, to obtain Medicaid benefits, chances are Lamson & Cutner can help you protect your assets and income and still receive assistance through Medicaid. Read more about our Medicaid planning services here.

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