At some point in your life you may need to qualify for Medicaid coverage. Unless you have previously been enrolled in the Medicaid program in Missouri you will likely have no idea how to apply or how long it takes to qualify for Medicaid in Missouri. Just to make things a bit more confusing, the passage of the Affordable Care Act has expanded Medicaid coverage in some states yet reduced coverage in others.
Medicaid is a federally funded healthcare program that is intended to provide coverage for low income families and individuals as well as for the disabled and elderly if they meet eligibility requirements. Because Medicaid is state administered, the eligibility requirements as well as the benefits to participants can vary somewhat from state to state. In all states, however, an applicant must fall below the program’s income and asset limits to qualify for coverage.
If you are nearing retirement age, or are already in your golden years, you may find yourself in need of the coverage offered by the Medicaid program if you, or a spouse, needs long-term care. Medicare will not cover long-term care costs nor will most private health insurance policies. Medicaid, however, does cover long-term care for those who qualify. As a general rule, your application for Medicaid in Missouri will be processed within 30-45 days; however, it can take up to 90 days or longer during peak periods of enrollment or if your application is incomplete. If you are applying for Medicaid for the elderly, you may encounter a delay as your assets are considered. The reason for this is that the Medicaid program has a very low “countable assets” limit ($2,000 for an individual) that cannot be exceeded to qualify for benefits. When considering your assets, a five year “look-back” period is used. In essence, this mean that the Medicaid program will review your finances for the five year period preceding your application to see if any asset transfers occurred. If you did transfer any assets during that time period the value of the transferred asset will likely be imputed back into your estate for purposes of qualifying for benefits. If your assets exceed the program limit you will need to “spend-down” before Medicaid will begin to cover your expenses. This review process can extend the amount of time it normally takes to approve or deny an application for Medicaid in Missouri.
The best way to ensure that you qualify for Medicaid benefits when you need them is to include Medicaid planning in your overall estate plan. If you have additional questions or concerns about your Medicaid planning, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.