Medicaid is a joint federal and state program which pays medical expenses for certain categories of needy persons, including pregnant women, children and teenagers, the blind and disabled and adults aged 65 or older. Each state has the ability to establish its own eligibility guidelines within these categories of needy persons, subject to minimum federal standards. Oklahoma is referred to as an “income cap” state; if your income and resources are above the prescribed limit, then you cannot qualify for Medicaid benefits. These limits are very restrictive, as even those of modest means are often ineligible.
Medicaid is an important program for middle-class Oklahomans who require long-term care in a nursing home; Medicare does not cover the costs of long-term care in a nursing home, and with nursing home rates continually on the rise as demand for long-term care increases, most cannot afford to pay privately. However, Oklahoma’s strict eligibility limits present a challenge for those who seek to qualify for Medicaid while protecting assets for their family and loved ones. In my next post, I will look at how this challenge can be overcome in many cases through proper planning.