Nursing Homes and Medicaid

As life expectancies and the costs of long term care continue to rise, many families are faced with the challenge of how to pay the costs of nursing home care.  With the cost of nursing home care in our area ranging from $5,000 to $8,000 per month ($60,000 to $96,000 per year), even those persons who can afford to pay for a period of time will often find their entire life savings drained in months or a few short years.

Without a plan, your entire life savings could be wiped out in a few short years

Often families mistakenly believe Medicare will pay for nursing home expenses.  However, Medicare does not pay for extended nursing home stays.  At most, Medicare might pay a portion of the nursing home costs up to a maximum of 100 days.  But often, Medicare will pay none of the nursing home costs or far less than 100 days.  So, when this type of care is needed, if you do not have long-term care insurance, you must either privately pay (pay out of your own pocket) or apply for Medicaid.  However, Medicaid has strict and complicated eligibility requirements that must be met before Medicaid will assist the family in paying for nursing home costs.  In fact, Medicaid’s rules are so complex and tricky, you might think they were designed to frustrate the very people that Medicaid is in place to help!  While many think that you must spend all or substantially all of your assets before Medicaid will help, this is not true.  In many situations, property and assets can be saved from the cost of care with careful planning both prior to and even after nursing home admission.

Don’t leave your spouse broke and with little income!

When faced with a long term stay at a nursing home, too often many families mistakenly believe they have to use all or most of their life savings before qualifying for financial assistance through the Medicaid program to pay for nursing home costs.  Sadly, I have too often seen or heard of families spending assets or selling homes where there was no legal need; assets that could have been saved for the spouse or children with proper planning and advice.  It is tragic when a sick spouse goes into a nursing home and the family, for lack of knowing there are legal alternatives, fails to hold on to as much assets and income for the other spouse and the children as the law allows.  Some of these families who needlessly spent assets they could have kept were following “advice” from family members and friends.  It is not unusual for well-intentioned individuals to give a family incorrect advice regarding their ability to qualify for Medicaid causing more problems rather than solving them.  For example, did you know that transferring assets to a family member, friend or trust, if not done properly, can delay your eligibility by months or even years?  Did you know that such a transfer can cause unexpected tax consequences often in the tens of thousands of dollars?  As an attorney that helps clients save assets when faced with an extended stay in a nursing home, I know the legal rules to help you legally and honestly qualify a loved one for Medicaid while preserving the maximum amount the law permits.

You might have been told by Medicaid or the nursing home that you need to “spend down” assets, but you won’t know how to hold on to as much assets and income as the law allows unless you speak to an attorney knowledgeable in Medicaid law

Sometimes the family will have already approached Medicaid, nursing home personnel, or social workers and been told they do not qualify because they have too much assets and need to “spend down” those assets.  However, Medicaid and nursing homes are not in the business of explaining or assisting a family with the legal strategies available to actually preserve assets.  Armed with the right information and sound legal strategies, you can protect a substantial portion of your hard earned assets while easing the strain caused by excessive health care bills.

Nursing homes and Medicaid agencies are not in the business of showing you how to protect your assets.  In fact, they both want you to spend as much of your money as you are willing to spend.  You need to see an Elder Law Attorney if you want someone on your side.

In addition to the complex set of rules on what you are allowed to protect, a Medicaid application requires a huge mound of paperwork which is then submitted to an inefficient government processing system, all of which makes the filing of an application for public benefits an enormous project without even considering that the common family has no way of learning on their own how much in the way of assets they are legally allowed to keep if proper strategies are followed.  In fact, at a time when more people are needing help with Medicaid, staff in that department is being cut and overworked.  So it has become more challenging than ever for families to obtain Medicaid on their own.

We will assist you in developing and putting into place a plan that maximizes the amount you can keep under Medicaid’s rules and we will represent you in front of Medicaid.  We will be your guide through the hazardous maze created by the Medicaid system.  You will not have to spend your time watching out for hidden potholes, obstacles and dangerous curves on the path to Medicaid as we will be guiding you.  You will be able to spend your time taking care of the emotional needs of the family instead of worrying about the financial costs of long term care.

Let us be your trustworthy guide through the Medicaid maze

Call us now to schedule a complimentary free thirty minute consultation.  Or if you would like to have additional information, please sign up for our free Family guide.