“Remember that with all the myths you hear about Medicaid, the laws were never intended to impoverish both spouses because one needs care”
Like everything created by the United States Government, Medicaid is NOT a simple program that’s easy to understand. Since it’s also a program people only learn about when they feel they actually need it, a great many myths and misconceptions have entered the public conscience when discussing Medicaid that often distorts what it actually does. Below are the 5 most common misconceptions or myths I here from people everyday.
Going on Medicaid Means My Wife and I will Lose Everything We Have: Half True
Medicaid requires the recipient to have spent down most of their usable assets, or transferred all but $2000 to a healthy spouse, to be eligible for Medicaid. However the spouse is not required to spend down to anywhere near the same degree. This is something critical for married clients I have to say all the time. “There is NO 5 year look back period to transfer assets to your spouse!” Just do not gift anything outside of your marriage, like to your kids right now! We just need to legally and financially reposition assets to fit the State of Washington’s rules and you will still retain near the same net worth you have now, but you will be spending some money to get there for State approval as it is a process.
I Don’t Need to Go On Medicaid, That’s what I got Medicare For: Wrong
Though anyone 65 and older can apply for Medicare, it does NOT in fact cover the same kind of care that Medicaid is most often called upon to provide. Medicare may cover a stay in a skilled nursing facility following a hip replacement, but it won’t help pay for an in-home caregiver to come and help you clean the house, nor pay for mom to live at an adult family home. Medicare is for SHORT-TERM stays and medical needs only, if you need help on a regular basis for the foreseeable future you’re going to need Medicaid.
So Before Going On Medicaid We Should Give All Our Money to Our Kids so the Government Doesn’t Get It: Wrong
There is a 5 year Look Back if you transferred assets outside of your marriage, that means the kids, and you can get into big trouble if you do it wrong. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) that manages Medicaid doesn’t want you to simply give hundreds of thousands to your adult children for safe keeping, then expect the government to pay for your care. Get legal advice from a Medicaid Planning Attorney if you feel you want to do this.
We’ll Never Be Able to Get Quality Care On Medicaid: Wrong
While many medical communities no longer accept Medicaid, the ones that do often still offer care just as good as ones that don’t. It is critical while doing your research that you thoroughly investigate the community you are considering with a focus on the care they give, not necessarily how pretty the building is.
Any Community We’re In Will Kick Us Out If We Apply for Medicaid: Wrong, Sort Of
Many senior living communities require a resident to pay privately for a certain length of time before they can switch over to Medicaid funding, this is called a Spend Down Contract. In these so long as you meet the minimum length of time paying privately before switching to Medicaid a community cannot lawfully evict you. Some communities also have things like separate Medicaid wings or a wait list that you have to get on before you’re eligible to switch, and if you run out of money before you’re up on the list you could be evicted. Still many communities no longer accept Medicaid at all. Bottom line, thoroughly research and read any contracts for a care community you are considering before move in so that you understand exactly what their Medicaid resident requirements are and if you’ll be able to reach them.
Didn’t See Your Myth on the List?
Head over to washingtonlawhelp.org for all kinds of helpful documents on understanding Medicaid in the State of Washington.