What's the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

The world of health insurance is a complex one, even for those of us who work in it every day. So it’s no surprise that many seniors and their adult children struggle to make sense of all their insurance options. It can be overwhelming to try and determine what services are covered and what coverage you are eligible for. Two of the most frequently confused programs are Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, some people aren’t even sure which one they have!
The following information should clarify several major differences between the two programs and help you understand when/how/if you may be eligible for benefits.
Medicare is a national health insurance for Americans over the age of 65 and the disabled. This is intended to pay for standard medical care and short term nursing care or rehabilitation. This is a federally funded program and benefits are the same for everyone (based on which Medicare plan you are registered for) regardless of what state you live in.  Medicare DOES NOT cover the cost of long term, custodial, residential, extended nursing home or assisted living care.  The video below explains in more detail each type of Medicare coverage and you can review options here for how to select care based on each person’s needs and finances.
Medicaid is a cooperatively administered health insurance program supported by both federal and state funding. The guidelines and benefits for Medicaid will differ depending on where you live. In the state of Ohio, Medicaid insurance covers nursing home, assisted living and long term care for seniors and disabled adults or children. In order to be eligible for Medicaid in the state of Ohio, a senior has to demonstrate an ongoing need for medical care or health care services in which the costs exceed his/her income.
Medicaid is not a guaranteed benefit. You have to qualify and apply for coverage based on income and assets. In some situations, such as when one spouse stays in the community, you do not have to exhaust all of your financial resources in order to apply for Medicaid. Planning ahead with the assistance of a qualified Elder Care attorney can make completing a Medicaid application easier when the time comes.
For more information about Trusts and Estate Planning or for assistance with a Medicaid application. Please contact our offices. For more information about your Medicare options, please visit Medicare.gov or contact one of our Care Coordinators who can direct you to local resources.

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Power of Attorney: The Legal Basics and Why Everyone Needs One

What’s the difference between a POA, DPOA, and HCPOA?
And what about a Living Will – do I need one of those too?

Many people assume that determining how your assets will be managed after death is the most important legal decision you need to make. But at BLG, we believe that identifying who you trust to handle financial and health care decision-making on your behalf in the event of illness or injury is equally if not more important.
Technically, the state you live in already has a plan in place for the distribution of assets in the event of your death. But if you become sick or incapacitated, even temporarily, your family may not be able to access the information they need to make health care decisions, pay your bills or apply for public benefits.
Having a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) and Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) ensures that your values and best interest are supported by the person (or agent) you have designated to handle specific legal, health and financial responsibilities.
The following guidelines offer a brief overview of each document, along with the answers to frequently asked questions:
Power of Attorney or POA – A legal document, signed by a competent adult, giving authority and permission for a trusted family member or other agent to manage specific decision making on their behalf. Health care and legal/financial are the two primary types of POAs. You can also designate secondary agents, who can assume responsibility if the primary agent is unable to fulfill his/her duties.
Durable Power of Attorney or DPOA – The word Durable means that the authority granted to a POA agent will continue in the event of incapacity or incompetence. This is especially important for children who want to help with an aging parent’s finances and is required for the Medicaid application process. Many POAs are drafted with limited powers, which can make the planning process difficult or impossible. A Financial POA should give your agent broad authority to do all the things that you can do.
Health Care Power of Attorney or HCPOA – This document outlines who can have access to health care information about you and who you trust to make decisions if you are unable to for any reason.  Your HCPOA should also include a HIPPA release clause. This authorizes providers to release protected health information such as test results, medical records, etc.  Facilities often ask to keep a copy of the HCPOA on file, and they may also ask for a Living Will.
Living Will – This is a signed legal document outlining what your wishes are regarding medical care if you are no longer able to give informed consent.  Our HCPOA document includes this language in it, outlining what each client’s wishes are regarding life sustaining measures and end of life care. This can ensure that your family and care providers have a clear sense of what your values and priorities are.
Once you have these important legal documents in place, we encourage you to talk with each person who might be involved in future decision making and, if you trust them implicitly, provide them with a copy of the documents. It’s especially important for family members to be aware of any Advanced Directives and know where to locate them, so that if an emergency occurs they feel confident making decisions.
Our professionally licensed counselors are available to help guide you through these discussions. And for additional peace of mind, ask about creating a Life Care Plan to receive ongoing support and guidance throughout all of life’s transitions. This includes helping you decide which benefits and providers are best for your needs and planning ahead whenever possible. For more information, please email BG@bradleygreene.com or call 216-575-5200.
Bradley L. Greene, Esq. is a Life Care Planning and Elder Law firm located in Beachwood, OH specializing in Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning and Elder Abuse – offering personalized support and family guidance through all of life’s transitions.