When it comes to Medicaid, those who take action sooner rather than later are most often the ones who transition into the program seamlessly and with much less stress. Medicaid planning was important before the new rule changes; today, though, it’s far more challenging for those who put off planning or who hadn’t anticipated needing the program. For years, we’ve heard about the five year look back period and the spend down rule. Here are four more reasons why you should plan for Medicaid. It all comes back to the old argument of a proactive stance trumps a reactive scramble any day.
There are a number of legal strategies that can help you better protect your assets while also ensuring your spouse isn’t left with few resources. By understanding what you’re facing, you can prepare for it in such a way that leaves nothing vulnerable. One tool we often recommend is the irrevocable trust. These trusts allow you to first, exclude it when Medicaid begins its investigation and second, they allow you to leave something for your loved ones. The kicker in this is the timeframe. These trusts must be in place prior to applying for Medicaid coverage.
Some states are considering the logistics of implementing dental programs in their Medicaid programs. In fact, South Carolina has already put a dental program in place. As part of its standard coverage, fillings, x-rays, preventive care and other services are now covered. Did you know that 3 percent of emergency room visits in this country are due to dental problems? This is a win-win: the already-stressed budgets of hospitals around the country will see a bit of a break but more importantly, those with dental issues are now able to deal with the problem versus a quick and temporary fix in what’s likely an understaffed emergency room.
When the announcement was made that each state would determine whether or not it wished to expand its Medicaid program, many states declined. In fact, the majority of the southern states nixed it. Now, though, those states are rethinking their decisions. Tennessee, Wyoming and Utah have had a change of heart. This will certainly bode well for residents in those states who were caught up in the middle of the healthcare quagmire.
Here’s another way the new healthcare laws are affecting Medicaid: mandatory training in expedited enrollment programs. Not only that, but waiting time has decreased slightly and, in some states, the approval process is even improving, courtesy of ACA approved temporary enrollment status until the final paperwork is completed.
These are just a few of the reasons why early planning can eliminate a host of headaches, delays, setbacks and frustrations. Your estate planning lawyer can guide you through the Medicaid process and can answer all of your questions. Give us a call today.