What are the most common mistakes people make when attempting to qualify an elderly loved one for Medicaid? Matthew Bravette has seen it all. As one of the attorneys at Bratton Law Group, a Life Care Planning Law Firm with offices in the Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia areas. Matthew has helped thousands of clients navigate the complicated and confusing Medicaid application process, and he has seen more than his share of mistakes.
One of the biggest involves believing the rumors you hear from friends, family, and neighbors.
One of the most persistent untrue rumors—Don’t apply for Medicaid because Medicaid will take your home—often discourages people from applying. “While there are Medicaid estate recovery laws which allow the state to recover for up to the dollar value of benefits paid out, there are many exceptions to those rules and there are ways to protect assets against the estate recovery process,” Matthew said.
The “Don't apply for Medicaid because they will take all your income" rumor is a close cousin to the estate recovery rumor. “Though there are strict asset and income limits, there are exemptions for countable income, countable assets, what your spouse can have, and the deductions available even to the applicant who's turning over a portion of their income for their Medicaid cost share. Once a person is on Medicaid, they can take advantage of deductions to help them pay for their personal needs and different things like supplemental health insurance.
Another rumor— “If you’re on Medicaid, you’ll end up receiving substandard care—just keeps hanging on though it is not true. “Medicaid coverage shouldn't change your quality of care,” Matthew noted. “When you're at home, not all healthcare providers are going to accept Medicaid, but the same situation can occur with any other standard insurance coverage.”
If an older relative needs skilled nursing and doesn’t have the means to pay for it, Medicaid is a godsend. “This care can cost more than $10,000 per month,” Matthew added. “If you already have Medicaid eligibility secured and you're looking at admission to a skilled nursing facility, some facilities will accept you with existing Medicaid coverage in place and without any private pay required. And at that point, you're only turning over the portion of your income that is necessary to maintain that Medicaid eligibility in a skilled nursing facility. You can reduce your monthly costs from more than $10,000 a month down to your income less a couple of deductions that are available to you and potentially to your spouse.”
Believing rumors without getting the facts is always risky. When it comes to Medicaid, believing rumors can be costly.
The final article in this series will cover one more mistake families make during the Medicaid application process.