They have similar names that can be confusing but Medicare and Medicaid are different beasts with different considerations. Medicare is a federal insurance program that is not income or asset-based for eligibility requirements. Medicaid is the program that has income and asset-based requirements and the oft-dreaded “look back period,” for which clients seek out help from attorneys. If you haven’t heard of the “look back period” it is the time period that the state will look back through an applicant’s assets to see if they recently transferred out assets in order to gain eligibility for the program. Depending on when an asset was transferred and how much the value was, a varying “penalty period” for eligibility may be imposed.
Medicaid is broadly structured by federal guidelines, but is run by individual states. Because it of individual state control, it varies from state to state as to what tactics “work” to protect assets and gain eligibility. Add to that the differing needs of individual clients (age, current medical status, family structure, where property is located, etc…) and there is no way to say what particular method of Medicaid planning will “work” for you without sitting down and discussing your very individual situation.
Your attorney will need to know your state of residence, where you own property, whether that property is mortgaged, who is on the deed(s) and how the ownership described on the deed(s), your family structure, how you want your property (real and personal) distributed after you pass on, etc…
It’s never too early to think about Medicaid planning, although some methods may be more beneficial at different times.