Wednesday

From The Archives

Article: PLAN LONG-TERM-CARE COVERAGE.

(Editorial)

Byline: Kate McGahan

Your article of Nov. 10 speaks of the disputes that currently exist over trusts established to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

Medicaid is a government program which provides assistance to those who cannot afford to pay for their own care out of their income or assets. Many in the community don't apply for benefits because they don't know they qualify.

We often read about how much Medicaid and Medicare programs are struggling. Both programs are going to have to clamp down to find a way to survive, and they will start asking more questions and making more applicants and recipients accountable for their actions. They have no choice if they want to be around for the taxpayers who are currently feeding the funds.

The best planning for Medicaid is done ahead of time. There is nothing wrong with creating a trust as part of an estate plan. There is nothing wrong with transferring or gifting assets to those you love. Don't wait until the unexpected day you are admitted to the nursing home or are told you need 24-hour supervision to put a plan in place.

Start looking at the possibilities as you face your retirement and are doing your long-range planning. Set up that revocable or irrevocable trust ahead of time. Transfer assets to your children - for their future or yours - ahead of time. Take a look at long-term-care insurance, part of a successful long-term-care plan.

The more dollars you have, the more options you have. If you are reading this and are facing care costs and decisions now, you still may have options you don't know about.

Contact a reliable, objective, honest professional to assist you in the proper planning techniques. Care managers will help you sort through the maze of options and costs and help you choreograph a plan that works best for you. Ask if he or she can explain the "penalty period" to you. If he or she can't, he or she is not the right one for you.

Planning ahead with the right advisers will help you avoid disputes at a time when it may be all you can do to get through another day of sickness or disability. We all make better decisions when we are unpressured, healthy and resilient.

Don't waste any more time saying, "It will never happen to me." Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and you will be prepared for the future.

Kate McGahan is executive director of CNY Elderplanning and author of "The Medicaid Primer: What You Need to Know to Apply for and Receive Benefits in New York State."

Testimonial

"Kate McGahan's skill, experience, and availability were invaluable to me in getting my recently widowed mother the care that she needed. My mother unrealistically wanted to continue living alone in her own home, and I did not have the wherewithall to convince her of the clear need for an assisted living arrangement in short driving distance of where I live.

Kate skillfully navigated Mom through a comprehensive three-hour interview to learn of her current situation, needs, and concerns. Kate's professional but relaxed, concerned, attentive manner helped my mother to relax and consider making significant changes that she never would have accepted directly from a family member, even if I had known what to propose and how to say it, which I did not. Kate built such a rapport that Mom asked after her in the days following the interview.

Kate's follow-up written assessment was clear, pointed, balanced, and invaluable to me when taking my mother to new doctors and her new residential care apartment near me in an adjacent state. Her timely, professional assistance illuminated for us the future path my mother needed, and elicited from my mother cooperation that I never would have gotten without Kate's help. Finding Kate was for me the single most important and valuable step in an urgent and critical process."
~George DeVore