Older loved one in need of medical care? Look into Medicaid eligibility

When it comes to your family, there are few things that take priority over obtaining effective medical care. Yet, with the costs of medical treatment ballooning in America, it can be difficult to afford quality care.

According to the Milliman Medical Index, the annual cost of healthcare for a family of four has more than doubled in the last ten years. In 2013, the yearly total for family medical costs is expected to stand at $22,030 for just four people.

The costs can be even steeper when an elderly relative is factored in. Seniors tend to have more medical needs than younger family members, and paying to reside in an assisted living care facility can be particularly financially draining - current annual rates for long-term nursing home care are around $10,000. However, there may be resources available to help pay for your elderly loved one's medical care - if you put the right legal strategy in place.

Planning carefully, fighting for benefits can ensure your loved one gets needed coverage

Medicaid is a federal program that provides medical coverage to almost 60 million Americans. Medicaid, also called Title 19, is reserved for those with limited means, and as such, there are strict eligibility requirements.

Currently, in order to qualify for Medicaid under Connecticut law, a senior must only possess assets valued at $1,600 or less (with a few significant exemptions, such as the value of a home and cash stowed away to pay for burial costs). For some seniors, it makes sense to pare down their assets in anticipation of burdensome medical costs arising in the future.

However, it is not as simple as just giving away assets to loved ones or charitable causes until a senior is below the threshold; under federal law, transfers of assets within five years of someone's Title 19 application must be examined. If anything about the transfers seems suspicious, the government may deny benefits or initiate a penalty period.

Because making a plan in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits is difficult, obtaining legal assistance in doing so is highly recommended. In addition, if a Medicaid application is denied or a penalty period assessed, you have the right to a hearing, in which a Medicaid lawyer can help you present evidence of eligibility for benefits.

Affordable Care Act will soon modify Medicaid eligibility criteria

Under the Affordable Care Act, certain eligibility criteria for Medicaid will be changing in January of 2014. It is important to know how these changes could affect your Medicaid plan, and whether the updates to the law could be of benefit to you and your family. Remember, to be most effective, Medicaid planning should take place as long before benefits are needed as possible. That being the case, and with January of next year fast approaching, if you have a family member who may soon be in need of expensive medical care, now is the time to contact a Connecticut Medicaid attorney.