The Mythology of Medicaid

By Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law. Senior advocates in Aurora, Illinois.

Most people believe that Medicaid is only for the really poor members of society and that they will never use Medicaid.

There is a stigma attached to Medicaid in many people’s minds because of this nearly universal belief. However, in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, Medicaid is a very important program, and it’s important to find yourself a lawyer who is cognizant of how it works.

A former Illinois senator who had dealt with senior issues for years once told me, “I don’t quite understand what Medicaid has to do with senior citizens.”

I replied, “In the state of Illinois, the average senior citizen does not have enough personal resources, savings, IRA, etc. to pay privately for even one year of long-term care services out-of-pocket. Therefore, almost every Illinois senior citizen’s family who winds up with a loved one requiring long-term care will need to deal with Illinois’s Medicaid nursing home benefit qualification rules. That’s what Medicaid has to do with senior citizens.”

He was a very capable politician who had been voting on senior issues for over 20 years. But in his position as a local layperson relative to Medicare and Medicaid, even as a politician, he had no idea that the words senior citizen and Medicaid applied to each other at any point.

The former senator is not alone in his thinking. This is an example of how few people (lawyers and laypersons alike) understand Medicaid and, unfortunately, the federal government is not working very hard to break this myth. People assume that Medicare will provide care from age 65 to the grave, and that is simply not true.

Medicaid is a means-tested entitlement program that provides medical benefits to eligible individuals. The federal government gives grants to the states, covering about 50 to 80 percent of the program costs, with the state paying the balance. Each state adopts its own rules, within the federal guidelines, for administering the program.

Medicaid pays for nursing home costs for qualified individuals. It can also cover home- and community-based services such as assistance with bathing, light housekeeping, cooking, and laundry while an eligible patient with Alzheimer’s remains at home if a state offers these community programs.

People sometimes forget that Alzheimer’s disease will alter the life of the spouse in dramatic ways, and there are consequences that can continue long after the spouse with Alzheimer’s is gone.

Too many families needlessly lose everything they have.  Don’t let that be you.  If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!


Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine,, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!

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