May 30, 2012

Your Advocacy Connection – Offering Comprehensive Care and Financial Advocacy

By Glenda Thomas
GolderCare Solutions

I drive a 2006 Chrysler Town and Country van. It’s not fancy, but it gets me and my tribe where we need to go. I know how to put gas in the tank and call for routine oil changes, yet when the check engine light comes on…I call the specialist. Accessing the correct avenue to proceed concerning getting the best long term care and discerning the best way to pay for that care are like a big ‘check engine’ light. It is a good time to call on the expertise of people who know the system and have your independent best interest in mind.

For starters, it is a good time to be sure your documents are in order to protect your health and financial interests. Once this is taken care of, there are still many obstacles. The two primary obstacles being: choosing a long-term care setting that meets you or your loved ones’ needs and developing a plan of how you will pay for that care long-term.

I would like to focus on the second of these two obstacles. When developing a plan of how to pay for long-term care, there are many options. One of which is to pursue application for Medicaid, a public assistance program which considers your assets and income to determine if you qualify for benefit. The criteria for Medicaid eligibility are complex and ever changing. For instance, an applicant is determined to be eligible if their cash assets are less than $2,000. While the rule remains the same, states interpret them differently. An applicant who has more than $2,000 of cash assets in the state of Iowa is determined ineligible and a financial attribution worksheet is completed. More than $2,000 of cash assets in Illinois and the applicant is determined eligible, yet assigned a medical spenddown (an amount over $2,000 that must first be spent on medical costs before Medicaid will begin paying toward care).

Additionally, the process of making a plan for long term care often includes concern for costs incurred beyond the facility charges. For instance, it is a common misconception that once a person is on Medicaid that everything is paid for. This is not the case. Medicaid eligible persons receive coverage for all their medical needs as defined by the state. Plans can be made to assist in the payment of supplement needs which may include, but are not necessarily limited to: clothing, shoes, personal cosmetics, toiletries, phone, television, personal hygiene supplies; as well as, some equipment or dental not covered by insurance.

The above mentioned examples of eligibility determination and supplemental needs are just two areas addressed in the comprehensive care and financial advocacy offered at Goldercare Solutions Unlimited. If you are at the point in life when your ‘check engine’ light is on, blinking or better yet threatening to blink (it is always best to plan ahead), take a lesson from your car and call a specialist. If you need help developing a plan to get the best long-term care and assessing how to pay for it, GolderCare Solutions Unlimited is a great place to start.

Glenda Thomas is a Medicaid Advocate at Goldercare Solutions Unlimited. She holds a Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Northern Illinois University. Her love of numbers and people make her a valuable asset in assisting our clients at Goldercare Solutions Unlimited.