KMBZ Experts in the News: Medicare, Medicaid, and How to Prepare your Finances

Medicaid Specialist for Villa St. Francis Dispels Common Misconceptions
KMBZ | April 22, 2019

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Jackie Hollis joined the Kansas City Morning News on KMBZ to talk about the cost of senior care and address the stigma associated with Medicaid. Most people think that it’s only available to seniors who fall below the poverty line and are forced to accept subpar care.

At Villa St. Francis, 70% of residents rely on Medicaid to help cover the cost of care, and they receive the same 5 star care as residents who pay privately, use long term care insurance or are covered by Medicare.

“We have residents who have been doctors, lawyers, and scientists qualify for Medicaid. Money runs out,” Hollis told KMBZ reporter Dan Weinbaum.

With long term care costing an average of $80,000 to $100,000 per year, even those who have saved and planned ahead often can’t afford to pay privately and have to look at other options.

Sometimes people will try to “spend down” their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. Hollis warned KMBZ listeners that this tactic can backfire if they don’t have a plan in place ahead of time.

When you apply for Medicaid, any gifts or transfers of assets made within five years of the date of application are subject to penalties. However, any gifts or transfers of assets made greater than 5 years of the date of application are not subject to penalties.

What this means is that if seniors start spending down assets well in advance of when they will actually need Medicaid they will get the maximum benefit and avoid expensive penalties for failing to properly plan their finances.

“Keep track of what you’re doing. Whether you’re helping a loved one apply or applying yourself, you need to be aware of everything you’ve done in the 5 years prior to filing the application,” she said.  “Transfers, sales of property and gifts can affect you for future care, so you need to know now.”

Hollis tries to make the transition as seamless as possible. She will sit down with prospective residents, let them know what they need and how to get approved. “Even if you’re not ready today, you need to get ready for tomorrow,” she said.