Many people in New Jersey and across the nation take the step of establishing a long-term care plan for how they want to pay for the health care services they or a loved one will need as they age. Some people will want to utilize Medicaid services as a means of affording health care services. It is important to have a basic understanding of what Medicaid is, so you can determine if it is right for you.

Medicaid is a means-tested government insurance program that provides qualifying individuals with financial resources to pay for certain medical expenses and other health services. Like health insurance programs, Medicaid reimburses health care providers for the costs of the services they provide rather than paying the recipient of services directly. Health care providers are not required to accept patients with Medicaid.

While it is a federal program, the states are responsible for administering Medicaid. They will determine how much to pay for services, what services will be covered and what is required for a person to be eligible for benefits. For example, some mandatory services that all New Jersey Medicaid beneficiaries may receive include inpatient and outpatient hospital treatment, lab work and x-rays, health screening services, home health care, services provided by a physician and nursing facilities for qualifying individuals over 21-years-old.

In the end, while Medicaid is an important benefit for many, it is only one part of a comprehensive long-term care plan. Those in the process of long-term care planning for themselves or a loved one will also want to consider whether they or a loved one needs a special needs trust or other asset protection tool, whether guardianship will need to be established and if there is a need for an extended stay in an assisted living facility or nursing home.