People are accustomed to taking advantage of the generosity and errors of people in medical care. That is not to say that people are intentionally going around stealing from Doctors and Hospitals. It is just to say that almost nobody looks at the front desk person at a Doctor’s Office, or Hospital Admissions office and says, “Oh No, you are not charging me enough!”
This general approach to obtaining health care services is the product of several factors, not the least of which is the general fear the public has of how much medical care actually costs.
In a Nursing Home context, however, this approach is often very fool hearty. Here is why. If you are like the 72%+ of people who pay for Nursing Home care by diverting your social security to the Nursing Home and having the facility collect “Medicaid” benefits for the rest, then you need to pay attention.
Despite a recent failed attempt to do away with the program, Federal Law still provides that all 50 states have to administer a program of Medicaid Estate Recovery. In other words, after the patient has died, the state is required to come after estate assets in order to “repay” the government for benefits paid out for care.
The Nursing Home administrator who helps fill out an application for these benefits is restricted by law from helping you to understand much of anything about Estate recovery. In fact, in years gone by, they were not even allowed to help fill out the application and most people had to get help from attorneys. That meant that the families could be properly advised about Estate Recovery and take the steps the law allows to be taken to prevent that recovery from happening. Several years ago, in a fairly obvious attempt to try to misdirect people into feeling “good” about getting Medicaid easily, the government made it legal for Nursing Home folks to help applicants fill out the forms. The side effect is that more estate assets remain available to pay back the government. It is unclear how these folks think that this program should be labeled a “benefit,” instead of a “loan.”
The message in all of this is that it is not as simply as feeling good that you “got Medicaid” when you remain completely unaware of what is going to happen at life’s end. Get the whole story before you sign up for benefits at a Nursing Home. See a qualified, experienced, Elder Law attorney first.
This article is written by an attorney at Attorney Donald Wyatt PC. Always consult an attorney before making any legal decisions. To make an appointment today, please click here to contact us.