The Law of the Market: Do You Need Medicaid Planning?

Even in recent years, the average life expectancy of Americans has increased dramatically. Just a few years ago, a 75-year-old white man could only expect to live to his early 80s. Now he can expect to live to be 87. The same increased life expectancy is available to all other types of individuals, whether male or female and whether white or colored.

This revolution in life expectancy is the result of many factors, but the most important are:

Over the past few years, the medical treatment of heart disease, cancer, and many other illnesses has improved dramatically.

Far fewer Americans smoke than in the past.

However, it is also true that due to our increased life expectancies, many more of us are likely to require at least a few months of nursing home care in our later years, and many of we may need this care for many years. But comprehensive care at a New Hampshire nursing home can easily cost $15,000 a month. For most of us, even just a few months of these costs would be catastrophic. And for those of us who are eligible for Medicare, our Medicare insurance would only cover a small portion of them.

It is true, however, that even if we have substantial assets and income, we can benefit from having our nursing home costs covered by Medicaid. This federal assistance program primarily benefits low-income individuals and families. However, with careful planning, Medicaid can cover some or all of your nursing home costs, regardless of your wealth.

A brief overview of the rules governing Medicare nursing home coverage can be found in a pamphlet, “Understanding New Hampshire’s Medicaid Rules,” by Manchester law firm Butenhof & Bomster, PC. You can access this brochure on this company’s website; the link is:

However, the rules governing Medicaid coverage of nursing home costs are numerous and complex, and they are constantly changing. Their discussion in the brochure above, excellent as it is, is just the tip of the iceberg. Also, these rules can differ significantly from one person potentially eligible for Medicaid nursing home coverage to another, and they can also differ significantly among potentially eligible married couples. I will therefore not attempt to summarize them here.

However, I urge all readers of this column, regardless of age, to consider consulting with an expert in Medicaid nursing home coverage now. This expert’s advice could well save you and your heirs tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and assets. I am not a Medicaid planning expert. However, if you contact me, I will be happy to refer you.

John Cunningham is an attorney licensed to practice law in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He is legal counsel for the law firm McLane Middleton, PA. Contact him at 856-7172 or [email protected] His website is To access all of his Law in the Marketplace columns, visit

Law in the Marketplace is a legal advice section. It airs weekly in the Sunday Business section. The author is a lawyer at Concord and is not a staff member of the Monitor.

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