Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Jumping Through Medicaid Hoops, Part 2

With Dad in the nursing home, I had another go around with the Medicaid application. Bank accounts, insurance policies, and the value of the house were now taken into account.

I was advised to cash in his insurance policy and prepay funeral expenses. Sitting in the funeral director's office, I kept hearing the line from Monty Python and The Holy Grail. A man is wheeling a wagon of plague victims and he's calling, "Bring out your dead".

 Another man comes out of a house with a body over his shoulder. "Here's another one."

And the body replies, "But I'm not dead, yet."

"But you will be soon."

"No, I'm not. I'm getting better."

It just felt very odd sitting with the funeral director and making arrangements while my parents were still alive.

 And then I had to sell the house, and I had 9 months to do it.

Only I couldn't sell. Not because I didn't want to, but because I only had legal authority to sell half the house. As Attorney in Fact for Dad, I could buy and sell in his name. Under the temporary conservatorship for my mother, I had no legal authority to buy or sell in her name. I would have to petition the Court for permission to sell the house. And that couldn't be done until a permanent conservator was named.

With so much red tape to dispense, I needed to hire an attorney to help me with the paperwork. The wheels had already been put in motion for this when I had Dad sign over Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy to me and to have his will made. The attorney who handled that also agreed she would deal with Medicaid, and take care of the permission to sell the house and the contracts to sell the house. The lawyer would also wait and take all her fees when the house was sold. That was one headache out of the way.

I was told I was not responsible for  my parents' debt. Bank accounts had to be spent down to the magic $2,000 limit. The house had to be sold, but selling a house doesn't happen quickly. There are still real estate bills, home owner's insurance, utility bills all needing to be paid, along with repairs and maintenance to the house in order to sell it. And no money from Dad's account to do this with because Medicaid takes the money up front. So even though I wasn't responsible for my parents' debt, I was in the position of paying expenses out of my own pocket to keep the house afloat. I had been assured I would be reimbursed from the sale of my parents' house. Small comfort when trying to pay expenses for two households. We sometimes joked maybe we should go clean out my parents' house with a match and some lighter fluid. So we rolled along on brick wheels. We were rolling, but it wasn't pretty.

Next week: Legal Eagles


  1. Hugs, CJ, that's a lot to cope with. I hate to show my ignorance but what's the difference between medicaid and medicare?

  2. That's a very,good question, Sandra.

    Medicare is a government supplemental insurance program for people over 65. Used along with healthcare insurance, Medicare helps defray healthcare cost. Medicare pays 80% and the regular health insurance pays up to 20% of healthcare bills. Whatever insurance doesn't pay, the patient pays the hopefully small balance. Money for this program is the FICA deduction on your paycheck. That is, your deductions help Seniors. When you become eligible, younger workers fund your benefits.

    Medicaid is a government supplemental insurance program for US citizens with low or no income. For those in a long term nursing facility, Medicaid pays the bulk of the room and board portion of the bill. The resident is expected to pay a percentage based on their Social Security and Pension Income, less monthly health insurance premium, less $72.80 for personal expenses. The Medicaid program is funded by the federal and state government, but managed by each state with its own regulations.

    Does that help?