Realistically, most people eventually need long-term nursing care. Without careful planning, however, it can be difficult to qualify for nursing home care through Medicaid.
Review the reasons that you and your family should discuss the eventual need for inpatient nursing care, even if you expect your parents to live independently for years to come.
Take advantage of the spend-down program
If your family member earns more than the annual Medicaid long-term care threshold in Tennessee, he or she cannot qualify for nursing home coverage when needed. With a spend-down program, residents can use excess income to pay for certain medical expenses and subsequently become Medicaid-eligible. Your parent can use this method in Tennessee if he or she is blind, has a disability or has reached age 65.
When only one spouse requires long-term care, your other parent may have concerns about remaining in their home. While laws protect his or her primary residence, planning also allows the parent who is not applying to Medicaid to retain a specific percentage of resources and income.
Avoid the look-back period
After your family applies for Medicaid, the state will review assets and income for the past several years. Failure to plan early can jeopardize Medicaid eligibility for quite a long time. In Tennessee, the so-called look-back period is 60 months, so start planning if you expect your loved one to need more intensive care in the next five years.
Without careful Medicaid planning, your family could end up using up its income and assets to pay for long-term nursing care. Starting this process in advance helps you find a solution that works for your aging parent.