The aging process can be fraught with concerns about finances, the loss of friends and family, and healthcare issues. As the lifespan of an average American continues to increase, these concerns also increase. Living longer doesn’t mean the aging process slows down. It simply means that you will live with concerns that impact the elderly for a longer time period in most cases. Health concerns, for example, may force you to consider long-term care as you get older. Understandably, most people would prefer to remain in their own home for as long as possible, causing many to ask the question “ Can I stay in my home if I get sick or need assistance? ”
The good news is that many elderly individuals with health concerns are able to remain in their home and receive the healthcare assistance they need through State of Illinois programs, Medicare and/or Medicaid. The Illinois Department on Aging’s Community Care Program, for example, may provide benefits for in home to care to those who qualify.
Both Medicare and Medicaid are federally funded healthcare programs. Some states, including Illinois, choose to supplement the federal funds provided for the Medicaid program. Typically, enrollment in Medicare is automatic when you turn 65 years old. Eligibility for Medicaid, however, is based on your income and resources. Both programs offer in-home care under certain circumstances.
Hospice care, which allows a terminally ill patient to remain at home during the last phase of a disease or condition, is provided by the Medicare program. In-home care, however, is not limited to terminally ill patients. Medicare also covers in-home care through Medicare certified home health agencies. Patients who are homebound, under a doctor’s care, and require medically necessary nursing or therapy services may be eligible to receive that care through Medicare. Medicare may cover costs for things such as medical equipment, intermittent skilled nursing care, and physical therapy. Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term care nor does Medicare cover around the clock skilled nursing for in home care.
The Medicaid program provides similar coverage to that offered by Medicare. In addition, Medicaid will cover the costs associated with long-term care should it become necessary. Qualifying for Medicaid, however, can be problematic if you do not have an existing Medicaid plan in your overall estate plan. Because Medicaid looks at your income and assets when evaluating eligibility, it is best to consult with your estate planning attorney early on about Medicaid planning to determine if you will qualify should the need arise in the future.
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