Paying for care in a nursing home can be a major expense that can drain the savings of almost any family. Due to this potential expense, it is advised that individuals plan for the possibility of a nursing home stay with a local, experienced elder law attorney to minimize their out-of-pocket costs.

One potential resource in paying for a potential nursing home stay is each state’s Medicaid program. Since these programs can vary significantly from state to state, it is important to work with an elder law attorney in your area. In Missouri, the state Medicaid program is known as MO HealthNet.

One potential hurdle in using Medicaid to pay for a nursing home stay is that the nursing home must have a Medicaid bed available for the individual potentially covered by Medicaid.

Different nursing homes have different policies on Medicaid bed eligibility. Some nursing homes make all their beds Medicaid eligible, while others set aside a certain percentage of beds as Medicaid beds. Someone, who might otherwise be financially eligible for Medicaid nursing home coverage, may need to endure a waiting period before a Medicaid bed opens up in the nursing home of their choice.

To clear up one potential point of confusion, individuals will receive the same level of care regardless of whether someone is or isn’t in a Medicaid bed. It is a violation of federal law for nursing homes to discriminate care based on how the individual is paying for the care.

Planning in advance is the best way to to ensure that a person will be Medicaid eligible when a Medicaid bed is available. This planning can help save tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses. An elder law attorney can also work with clients to find alternatives to delay entry to a nursing home until a Medicaid bed opens up. If the time for planning is limited, then the waiting period can be an opportunity to help make someone financially eligible for Medicaid sooner rather than later.

An experienced elder law attorney can work with clients to determine what is the best course of action for a particular client’s situation and minimize their out-of-pocket expenses.

For help in planning for a potential stay in a nursing home, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.