The Surprising Things Medicaid Won’t Pay For

Hook Law News | Mar 29, 2018 | Emily A. Martin

Many people know that they won’t become eligible for Medicaid until their countable assets are down to a very low number. In Virginia, that number is $2,000.00. While some people might worry about having to “spend down” their assets before they can qualify for Medicaid because it will leave virtually no inheritance for their children and grandchildren, others may not be as concerned with leaving an inheritance. We have many clients who ask, “Why can’t I just spend down my assets until I qualify and let Medicaid take care of the rest?”

Well, the problem is that Medicaid won’t “take care of the rest.” In fact, there are several important basic necessities that Medicaid doesn’t cover. If you spend down your assets to $2,000, leaving yourself almost no extra money, your children, grandchildren, and loved ones will be forced to pick up the tab for the following things:

  • Dental care. In Virginia, basic dental care such as regular cleanings, fillings, root canals, and dentures are not covered by Medicaid. If you expect to get regular cleanings and checkups or if you get a cavity or need dentures, you will have to cover the cost of this on your own.
  • Eye care. In Virginia, Medicaid provides eye exams every two years, but does not cover the cost of eyeglasses or contacts for adults. This is another expense that you will be required to pay for out of pocket.
  • Groceries, clothing, and other incidental expenses. Medicaid only pays for medical expenses, such as nursing home care. If you want those special chocolates from the grocery store or if you need a new dress, Medicaid won’t foot the bill.
  • Beauty care. This is another thing many people don’t think about. If you spend down all of your assets to $2,000, that doesn’t leave much money for regular hair appointments or makeup purchases. While this isn’t a necessity, it is part of what allows you to live your life the way you always have and can help many nursing home residents continue to feel comfortable with themselves.
  • Finally, Medicaid won’t provide any funds for your entertainment – whether that includes going to the movies, purchasing DVDs, or extra money to keep up with hobbies that you might have enjoyed for decades. Studies show that keeping your mind occupied with entertaining and stimulating activities can help ward off dementia and keep you happy longer. If you can’t afford these activities because you’ve spent down your money, you may face depression and even dementia later on down the road.

As you can see, while Medicaid helps people afford the constantly escalating cost of nursing home care, it isn’t the solution to all of your financial needs. If you want to have some money left over to spend on these extra expenses and still be able to leave some behind for your children, it is important to do some advance planning.

Ask Kit Kat – Rehoming Horses

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about the Hallelujah Horses—907 horses from South Dakota who were rehomed after being neglected by their original owners?

Kit Kat: Well, this is a terrific story! Largely thanks to the intervention of one heroic woman named Elaine Nash. In October 2016, Elaine was contacted by the police in a rural part of South Dakota. They had just taken possession of 270 horses that had been severely neglected. Once involved, she found out that 637 more horses were impounded from other areas. They would most likely be sold to slaughter houses, so now there were 907 horses who needed homes! Elaine was contacted because she was the founder and executive director of Fleet of Angels, a nonprofit that arranges for transport at an affordable rate for those who adopt older or infirm horses. This wasn’t exactly her expertise, but she jumped in and started to work on finding the 907 horses homes. They called them the “Hallelujah Horses,” because everyone cheered hallelujah when all were found homes.

Elaine and her team stayed 60 days in South Dakota, but they needed more time. They found another location in Fort Collins, Colorado. By then, they only had 312 horses to be rehomed. This last batch were the oldest and had some health issues, like blindness. Some of the males needed gelding, and a makeshift hospital was set up with the help of a local veterinarian. This phase lasted 8 months! However, all found homes. Many adopters had to take more than one horse, because of the amount of time some of the horses had spent with each other. Cindy Gendron, manager of the Humane Society of the US-sponsored Home for Horses Coalition says of Nash’s effort, “The bigger picture that it teaches us is that there are homes for so-called unwanted horses.” It proves that there are other alternatives than slaughter for old and infirm horses. That definitely merits a Hallelujah! (Kelly L. Williams, “Seeking Sanctuary,” All Animals, March/April 2018, p.6-7)

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Emily A. Martin

Attorney, Shareholder
757-399-7506 | 252-722-2890
[email protected]

Emily A. Martin is a Shareholder of Hook Law practicing in the areas of elder law, estate and trust administration, estate planning, asset protection planning, litigation and dispute resolution, guardianship and conservatorship, long-term care planning, special needs planning and financial planning. To date, Ms. Martin has overseen over 100 guardianship and conservatorship matters. In addition to being admitted to the Virginia State Bar and North Carolina State Bar, she is licensed to practice before the Department of Veterans Affairs. Ms. Martin is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and Regent University School of Law. Prior to joining the firm in 2018, Emily worked as an estate planning and elder law attorney in Virginia Beach for several years.

Practice Areas

  • Elder Law
  • Estate & Trust Administration
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection Planning
  • Guardianship & Conservatorship
  • Long-Term Care Planning
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Financial Planning
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