Medicaid is a state and federal partnership program which provides benefits, including health insurance, for certain eligible individuals and families. Unlike Medicare, which is an “entitlement” program, Medicaid is a “means-tested” program (the applicant’s income and assets are considered in determining eligibility, and must be within certain guidelines.) Although Medicaid health insurance is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, Medicaid programs are managed by the individual states, and coverage and eligibility requirements can vary somewhat from state to state. There are a number of benefits programs under the Medicaid “umbrella”, including but not limited to: temporary cash assistance for certain low income individuals with children, food assistance programs, general medical coverage for individuals with limited means, and long-term care assistance for certain individuals who are disabled or age 65 and older.
Medicaid is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with limited income and assets in the United States. However, Medicaid planning is not limited in scope to assisting the “poor”; due to increased longevity, lack of available long-term care insurance, and rising costs for personal and custodial care, Medicaid has been referred to as “long-term care insurance for the middle class”. So-called long-term care Medicaid benefits can help defray the majority of the monthly cost of a skilled-nursing facility, whether the stay is temporary (rehabilitation), or more permanent. The average monthly cost of a nursing home in the State of Florida is $8,000 in 2016. As a result, Medicaid planning can result in significant savings for individuals and families.