Elder law attorneys focus on legal and financial matters that are of interest to senior citizens, and government benefit programs are part of this equation. Legislative changes can impact these benefits, and there is a proposal on the table that is getting a lot of attention.
Medicare Eligibility Age
Since the program’s inception in 1966, qualified Americans have obtained eligibility for Medicare when they are 65 years of age. President Joe Biden has stated that he is in favor of reducing the eligibility age to 60.
Senator Bernie Sanders is aiming for an expansion that would include people that are 50 years of age and older. He would also like the program to start covering dental and vision care.
There are people that continue working at physical jobs when they are in their 60s because they need the health insurance that their employers provide. Others in this age group are laid off or bought out to make room for lower paid employees.
Individuals that work as private contractors are left to fend for themselves, and some of them are older and vulnerable to health problems. And of course, some folks simply have jobs that do not offer health care insurance as a benefit.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has found that a 60-year-old American with an annual income of $51,000 will pay about $4400 a year for a silver plan purchased through an Affordable Care Act insurance exchange.
There are few topics within the political realm that most Americans agree on, but this proposal is one of them. Another poll was conducted by the KFF found that 85 percent of Democrats are in favor of a reduction in the eligibility age, and they are joined by 69 percent of Republicans.
Early Detection and Treatment
A lot of people without health insurance do not go to doctors unless they are experiencing symptoms. At the same time, you are supposed to get regular checkups and blood tests, and doctors urge people to get colonoscopies when they get older.
Clearly, early detection is key, and proponents of the expansion emphasize this part of the equation.
Whenever you qualify for Medicare, you will have to be prepared to pay some out-of-pocket expenses. There is no premium for the hospitalization component, but there is a deductible and there is coinsurance for long stays.
You pay a relatively modest premium for Part B, which is the portion of the program that covers treatments that are provided by doctors and other health care professionals. Depending on the plan that you choose, there can be premiums, deductibles, and copayments for the prescription drug portion.
In addition to these costs that are usually manageable, there is one gaping hole in the coverage. Medicare does not pay for long-term care, and most seniors will need paid living assistance eventually.
Medicaid is the widely embraced solution, and you can potentially fund an irrevocable Medicaid trust to develop a financial profile that will lead to eligibility. Timing is key, because the trust must be funded at least five years before you apply for Medicaid.
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