Nevada Medicaid pays for long term care costs in nursing homes, some assisted living facilities, and memory care centers. It may also provide for some home-based care. Without Medicaid, families would be forced to pay for these expensive services out of pocket until they ran out of money.
In other articles, we have discussed the requirements for accessing long term care benefits through Medicaid. Accessing long term care funding through Nevada Medicaid is about more than just creating eligibility for benefits. In fact, with the help of your elder law attorney, Medicaid planning can fulfill many of your personal wishes and be sure that the cost of care does not diminish the quality of life of you or your loved ones.
Why you should hire an elder law attorney to help you access funding for long term care
The classic way to qualify for Medicaid benefits is to spend down assets which exceed the Medicaid limits for long term care program benefits.
This approach works, but has many downsides. First, the Medicaid rules are 1,600 pages long, so without an advocate, you have no way of knowing if the spend down amount is accurate. That is, you may spend more than you have to, and you cannot usually get that money refunded.
More importantly, the Medicaid spend down is usually the least efficient and most expensive way to qualify for long term care benefits. It spends the money and assets that the healthy spouse needs to live on, leaves you with little or nothing to pass on to your children and family, and depletes you of the reserves you need to maintain your quality of life and ensure you are getting the quality of care you desire.
For most people, spending money on things that they value is more desirable than paying a nursing home.
Elder law attorneys can help protect your income and savings from long term care costs, prevent the state from taking your family home to pay for care, ensure your spouse does not become impoverished, and qualify you for Nevada Medicaid, even if you are a middle-class family.
Identifying your goals for Medicaid planning
Planning for long term care is complicated, but possible. There are many ways to access long term care funding, so the best place to start is with your unique goals.
For example, most people do not think of estate planning when they think of long term care benefits. In fact, estate planning traditionally considers what happens after we pass away. Now that the need for long term care is so high, and the cost so much, individuals are beginning to wonder whether they will have anything left at the end of their lives to pass on. After all, an estate plan is useless if there is little or nothing left to give.
The earlier you plan, the higher the likelihood that assets will be left to leave for your family, regardless of your healthcare costs. Ensuring that there is something left to pass on after a lifetime of hard work is a commonly cited reason why families choose to work with an elder law attorney to find ways to pay for long term care.
Community spouse resource allowance
Another common and important goal for long term care planning is ensuring that the healthy or “community” spouse is not impoverished by the cost of a nursing home care for the spouse who is sick. Medicaid planning can shift income and assets for the benefit of the community spouse so that he or she can live independently and with dignity.
Quality of life for disabled children
This is true, too, for special needs children who may be disabled themselves. There are special planning techniques to ensure that your care does not leave a disabled child destitute.
Protecting the home from estate recovery
Protecting the family home from Nevada Medicaid’s expanded estate recovery is another goal that careful planning can achieve. You may have heard that, for married couples, the personal residence is not counted by the Nevada Medicaid office when it makes a benefits determination. While this is mostly true (with some limits and exceptions), unfortunately Medicaid liens can follow your spouse or children if they choose to sell the house if you do not engage in further planning.
Understanding coverage under Nevada Medicaid’s Long Term Care Support Services
There is no doubt that Medicaid is a valuable program that helps people live out their lives in qualify facilities where they receive adequate care and attention. But as our population ages and more people need the state’s assistance to pay for care, states will have to make their Medicaid budgets go further, likely by cutting services.
Recall earlier that we said that the traditional way to qualify for Medicaid (spending down assets until you have less than stated limits) is the most expensive and least efficient way to pay for long term care costs. One of the reasons is that it leaves no room for you to adapt to changes in the Medicaid program: by spending down, you have no money left to change course, access additional services, or purchase goods and services which will maintain your quality of life or improve the quality of care you receive.
A big goal for Medicaid planning with an elder law attorney is empowering your family to improve the quality of care you are receiving through outside purchases that you have funded in advance, so that you have peace of mind that long term care will not diminish your quality of life.
For most clients we speak to, the need for long term care is an uncomfortable topic. No one wants it, but by having a plan for the worst-case scenario, we can vastly improve the likelihood that you will live a comfortable life, well cared for, and still have a legacy to leave to your children and grandchildren.
Just as every person is unique, so are goals for Medicaid planning. Some clients are happy to use minimal planning that saves just a little for a rainy day and to leave to their children. Other families want the most flexibility and prefer to take more significant steps in this area.
If you would like more information about how your personal goals impact your access to long term care funding through Medicaid, please call our office at 702-850-7799 to discuss with an elder law attorney.