Doesn’t everyone over 65 get Medicare for free, and doesn’t Medicare cover my health care needs?

You qualify for Medicare benefits at age 65 or older if you are a U.S. citizen or are a permanent legal resident, and you or your spouse has worked long enough (usually 10 years or more) to be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. Your payroll deductions cover Part A (hospital), but you must pay a monthly premium for Part B (doctors) or Part D (drugs). You’ll also pay a premium if you decide to join a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, which typically covers all of your medical care on an in network basis. Medicare is medical insurance. It does not cover long-term care. The only program that covers home care, assisted living, or nursing home care, is Medicaid.

For effective planning, if you are making any transfers of your assets now, the five-year look back period must be taken into account.

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