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Michigan takes advantage of waiver in Medicaid expansion

One of the most commonly understood reasons for planning for the future is ensuring that there will be sufficient resources available to cover one's medical expenses. It is understood and even expected that medical expenses often increase with age, and these expenses can become a serious burden on both the individual needing the medical care and his or her family members. Although Medicaid planning is an important part of long term planning, it should not be the only part--especially with the frequent changes, both good and bad, to the Medicaid program.

Since the passage of the President's health care law, many states have begun to expand their Medicaid programs. The ways in which the programs are expanding differ from state to state, however, in part because the health care law allows for certain waivers that grant states the ability to expand their Medicaid programs in their own ways. Michigan is one of those states that has received such a waiver and is testing out different expansion options. Although there are certain freedoms granted to states that receive these waivers, they nevertheless must abide by some basic ground rules when choosing how to expand their Medicaid systems.

It is important to understand how the Medicaid system works and to keep abreast of the developments and changes that relate to Medicaid eligibility and coverage. Medicaid can be a powerful tool for providing for one's needs during the later years of life, but its benefits can be maximized only with careful planning.

A full and comprehensive look at long term care planning involves not only assessing eligibility for Medicaid and determining what other needs will remain but also looking at other issues, such as asset preservation, maintenance of one's quality of life, ensuring as much independent living as possible, etc. For many people, it may also be important to make a plan regarding the best way to pass wealth on to children or other beneficiaries. Regardless of the particular issues important to each unique person, exploring long term care options long before they are necessary is never a mistake.

Source: Fierce Health Payer, "A look ahead at Medicaid expansion," Dori Zweig, Feb. 20, 2015

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