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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
People often confuse Medicaid with Medicare. Although funded by the federal government, Medicaid is a separate program run by the various states to help needy individuals. If you qualify for Medicaid, the government will pay your health care bills. Most recipients include the aged, blind, or disabled who also qualify for supplemental social security benefits and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Each individual state has its own rules about qualifications. Generally, the person receiving benefits is required to pay all other bills with his or her own income, leaving only a small portion remaining from that income. Medicaid has special rules for married couples if only one spouse is to receive benefits. In general, one-half of the marital assets, not to exceed $74,820 (74 thousand, eight hundred, and 20 dollars), may be kept by the spouse not receiving coverage, as well as income of up to $1,254 (one thousand, two hundred, and 54 dollars) monthly. The income may be drawn from the individual's own income, any income-producing assets, or from the spouse's income. Be aware, individuals who attempt to transfer assets to others in order to qualify for Medicaid may be penalized. Congress imposes a penalty for gifts made within 36 months of the individual's accepting Medicaid benefits. For more information, consult a qualified estate planner in your area.

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