Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Cleveland

Top 5 Medicaid Mistakes

1) Waiting Too Long (“Ostrich Syndrome”)

Without a doubt, this is the biggest mistake! Most elders experience a series of health upsets that take a toll over months or years before permanent nursing home care is necessary.

2) Relying on Word of Mouth

Many are tempted to copy what a relative or neighbor did to qualify for Medicaid benefits because their situations appear to be the same. But this form of “self-diagnosing” and “self-dosing” is usually penny-wise and pound-foolish because of the risks involved.

3) Reducing Assets Too Soon

The poorly informed will sabotage themselves by reducing assets prematurely. This can require a bigger spend-down than the law otherwise requires.

4) Applying Too Soon

This is the flip side of Mistake #3 and both mistakes illustrate why it literally pays to know your rights under the law before you need the benefits. It is better to exhaust pre-application options since most are no longer available once an application is filed.

5) Weak & Uncoordinated Legal Directives

An elder who is legal incapacitated or too frail to act needs an agent with authority to take action for him. Standard estate planning directives are not designed with Medicaid and similar programs in mind.

The take-away lessons from these mistakes are: Ostrich Syndrome causes too many families to pay more than the law requires for long term care and to forgo available options. Get information, get it early, and remain informed.

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