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Sunday, April 21st 2013

Giving Away For Healthcare

Medicaid covers a large percentage of nursing home care and it is becoming a strategy (or at least a consequence) for the elderly to give or spend themselves into poverty to become dual eligible.

Millions of consumers have only one plan for covering long-term health-care costs. It’s to spend themselves into poverty until Medicaid — the state-run health-care program for the poor — picks up the tab


Washington is making another run at the issue. Chernof and 14 other health-care experts have been appointed to a commission on long-term care, created by the tax law that was signed in January. Members include Massachusetts’ Medicaid director, Louisiana’s secretary of health and hospitals and the vice chair of AARP’s board of directors.


The CLASS act, an attempt to set up a voluntary long-term care insurance program, was included in the health-care reform law but then rejected as unworkable by the Obama administration and repealed by the same law that created the commission. “It was a catastrophe,” says Howard Gleckman, Urban Institute resident fellow and author of the book, “Caring for Our Parents.”

Medicaid as the primary funding for long term care is unsustainable. And it is becoming harder and harder to give away your assests and qualify for Medicaid.

[S]ome people give away their money and property in order to qualify for Medicaid help sooner, a practice known as Medicaid planning.


The government doesn’t want to finance long-term care for people who are sheltering assets that could go toward paying their bills. So the new rules, which took effect in February 2006, extend the “look back” period from three years to five. If an individual gives away money or property during the five-year look-back, it triggers a penalty period during which he or she is ineligible for government aid.

The penalty period equals the amount given away divided by the average cost of nursing-home care in your area. So, for example, if you give $60,000 to family members and a nursing home costs $6,000 a month where you live, you can’t qualify for Medicaid for ten months.

We’ll see what the commission comes up with but I’ll be surprised at a legitimate solution.