Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC Medicaid Resources
The longer you live, the greater the odds that you will need long-term care at some point. If you are married, the odds that one, or both, of you will need long-term care (LTC) are even higher. For many seniors, this also means you may need to qualify for Medicaid at some point during your “Golden Years.” If you are unfamiliar with the Medicaid program the program guidelines can be rather confusing and the application process frustrating. This is particularly true for seniors who did not plan ahead by including Medicaid planning in their estate plans because the Medicaid income and asset limits can provide a bar to approval of an application. At Amen, Gantner & Capriano we understand how difficult it can be for a first time applicant to navigate the Medicaid system which is why we have put together some resources that may help you understand the Medicaid program a little better and assist you during your application process.
Missouri Medicaid – The Basics
Medicaid is a healthcare program that is predominantly funded by the United States federal government; however, the individual states may supplement the federal funding if they choose to do so. Although, the federal government provides most of the funding along with general oversight of the Medicaid program, each individual states administers their own Medicaid program. Consequently, the eligibility guidelines and available benefits can vary from one state to the next. In most states, including Missouri, Medicaid has programs that provide coverage for low income children and families, pregnant women, and persons who are disabled, blind or 65 years of age or older.
Medicaid for the Disabled and Aged in Missouri
If you, or your spouse, find yourself in need of LTC you will quickly realize how expensive that care is. Nationwide, a year in LTC averages $80,000. While Missouri’s average is a bit below the national average at around $65,000 a year, the average person is still not able to cover LTC costs out of pocket without it depleting their retirement nest egg. Why would you need to cover LTC costs out of pocket? Because most basic health insurance policies do not cover LTC costs nor does Medicare. The good news is that Medicaid does cover LTC expenses for those who qualify for benefits.
MO HealthNet for Seniors is Missouri’s Medicaid program for individuals who are 65 and older who meet the basic eligibility guidelines. General eligibility guidelines can be found on the Missouri Department of Social Services (MDSS) website. Descriptions of the specific Missouri Medicaid programs for the aged, blind, or disabled can also be found online. Seniors who are in need of nursing home care fall into a special Medicaid category in Missouri. Information about nursing home coverage can also be found on the MDSS website. Missouri Medicaid also has programs that will help cover both home and community based care for seniors to help prolong the time you can remain in your home. If you still have questions about the Missouri Medicaid programs for seniors, try the MDSS “Frequently Asked Questions” section.
Are You Eligible for Missouri Medicaid?
If you foresee the need for assistance covering healthcare expenses and/or LTC expenses during your retirement years, your first concern is whether you will qualify for Missouri Medicaid. The MDSS website provides a pre-screening tool that allows you to conduct an initial screening that will tell you whether you are likely to qualify for benefits. For seniors, the most common obstacle to eligibility is the asset limit imposed by Medicaid. Because Medicaid is intended to help low income recipients, the program imposes an income and asset limit. The income limit is tied to the Federal Poverty Levels which change annually. For a senior on a fixed income, the income limit may not pose a problem; however, the asset limit often does considering it is frequently as low as $2000 for an individual and $3000 for a couple. You can check the current income and asset limits for the various Medicaid programs on the eligibility chart provided by the MDSS. If you are married, and one of you needs nursing home care, you should also learn about the Medicaid division of asset rules and the spousal impoverishment rules. Finally, if your income and/or assets exceed the program limits you may still qualify for benefits through the Medicaid “spend down” rules.
How Do I Apply for Missouri Medicaid?
If you are ready to apply for Missouri Medicaid, you can do so online through the MDSS website or you can download a paper application and mail it in for review. In addition, most of the supplemental forms you will need to submit along with your application can also be found on the MDSS website.
If you have specific questions or concerns regarding Missouri Medicaid for seniors, or you would like to discuss retaining an experienced estate planning attorney to assist you in the inclusion of Medicaid planning within your estate plan, contact the experienced St. Louis, Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.