Most Americans are aware of the government programs known as Medicare and Medicaid. Although both of these programs are 45 years old, few Americans are familiar with Medicaid.
When people find themselves wondering about the benefits and eligibility requirements of various government programs, including Medicaid, the best information usually comes from a Medicaid attorney. These legal professionals have extensive knowledge about this program.
What is the difference in Medicare and Medicaid?
Designed for Americans age 65 and older, Medicare is the federally-funded medical plan intended to cover medical expenses such as doctor’s visits, hospital stays, drugs and other treatment. Medicaid is a program aimed at providing medical care to low-income families and individuals, children, and pregnant women living under the federal poverty level. It is funded jointly by the states and the federal government. Medicaid does not pay money to individuals. Rather, payments are made directly to health care providers. Some states require that Medicaid recipients pay a co-payment for a portion of their medical services.
What determines Medicaid eligibility?
Unlike Medicare, which is designed for everyone over age 65, Medicaid participants must meet certain eligibility requirements. Annual income is a major determining factor, but not the only one to be considered. Property ownership, age, and other factors must be addressed before determining whether an individual is eligible to receive Medicaid benefits. As a rule, most individuals eligible for Medicaid fall into one of the following categories
- Individuals age 65 and older
- Individuals under age 19, or under 21 if in foster care
- Blind, pregnant, or disabled individuals (including the working disabled)
- Parents or caretakers of a child with a parent who is absent, disabled, or unemployed
- Individuals living in nursing homes
- Those in medical need of certain home-based and community-based services
- Some individuals diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer
Why might an individual require the services of a Medicaid attorney?
Complex laws and confusing legal terminology make Medicaid laws difficult to comprehend. A Medicaid attorney is the best person to guide an individual who requires assistance determining eligibility rights and in planning for the future. When long-term medical care is needed, individuals often find Medicaid lawyers particularly helpful.
How can an individual locate a Medicaid lawyer?
Fortunately, several options are available to assist in finding a competent attorney who specializes in Medicaid issues. Perhaps the easiest method is to use the services of a lawyer referral service. These referral services often maintain hotlines. Many Americans do not have an attorney, and when they find themselves needing legal advice, they don’t know where to turn. With just a quick phone call, and answers to a few simple questions, a screener can determine the type of legal help needed and provide the name, address, and phone number of an attorney who specializes in that specific field of law. Most referrals are free of charge, and some provide discounts on legal consultations with participating lawyers.
Other people may elect to find a Medicaid attorney by checking with the local (state or city) bar association. By visiting the website for the bar association in the area and using lawyer search engines, it is possible to find an attorney who specializes in Medicaid law. A number of these websites provide online attorney directories.
A third option available for locating a Medicaid attorney may be more time consuming, but for those who prefer to speak with an individual, the telephone may be best. Phone calls to most large law firms can provide information about attorneys on staff that may specialize in Medicaid law. Even when firms do not have a specialist on staff, they are often willing to refer clients to other attorneys who do specialize in that area. Medicaid and elder law are rapidly expanding fields, and virtually every major city has attorneys who specialize in these fields.
Considering the ever-increasing cost of medical care, Medicaid is a benefit that should be taken advantage of whenever possible. When questions about Medicaid eligibility or benefits arise, it is wise to seek the guidance of a qualified Medicaid attorney. These lawyers are thoroughly trained professionals, capable of assisting clients in these important issues.