Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that, when combined with the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), provides health care coverage for nearly 73 million Americans. Most people associate Medicare with seniors, but more than 8.3 million people are enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.

Pre-retirees also benefit from Medicaid, so understanding how the program helps people who are aging is essential not only on a practical level, but also for lawmakers in setting policy. When approaching retirement age, it’s important to understand what benefits are available.

Medicaid benefits for seniors

The Center for Retirement Research lists three main ways Medicaid can help senior citizens:

  • Medicare premiums, copays and drug costs: Medicare Part B premiums for most New Jersey seniors are $135.50 in 2019. Premiums, coinsurance costs and most prescription drug expenses are subsidized by Medicaid for seniors with qualifying incomes of up to $1,061 for individuals and $1,430 for couples.
  • Long-term care: More than 60% of nursing home residents receive Medicaid coverage, and the program also covers close to half of all long-term care services for the elderly. Nearly 70% of those living past 65 will require nursing home care.
  • Coverage for pre-retirees: People in their 50s and 60s, who aren’t eligible for Medicare, often face difficulty finding employment due to age discrimination or physical problems that don’t allow them to work, making many unable to acquire employer-subsidized insurance. Many states, like New Jersey, expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act which accounted for 36% more people qualifying for coverage.

Protect your assets before obtaining Medicaid coverage

Whether it’s paying for nursing home care, or subsidizing Medicare premiums, Medicaid plays a critical role for millions of seniors. If a person’s income and assets keep them from qualifying, working with an experienced elder law attorney here in New Jersey can help them find strategies to transfer assets and lower income, so they can meet Medicaid eligibility standards to achieve their long-term health care needs.