Sunday, November 7, 2010

'Shopping' for Medicaid? Save Time With These Tips

Perhaps your parent needs a health care setting accepting Medicaid. The bad news is they're not located like Starbucks on virtually every corner. The good news is if you do your homework, on the phone and online, you can cut hours off your search.

Lists of assisted living communities, adult family homes and nursing homes accepting Medicaid are available from local agencies through a national government-funded website, Eldercare Locator. Look first within a half-hour's drive of your best destination--you may have to drive even farther to find current Medicaid availability.

Pick up the phone and ask:

1. Are you currently accepting Medicaid payment? Situations change, and your list may be out of date. If the answer is yes, ask:

2. Do you have any Medicaid openings today or in the near future? If the answer is yes, ask when you can tour. If not, ask:

3. Can we join a waiting list for Medicaid openings? (Ask this only if your parent can wait for placement.) Otherwise ask: Do you know of other communities or health care settings that might have current Medicaid openings?

Many communities give first priority to their existing private paying residents who run out of money. Some communities actually insist that new residents pay privately for a specific time period--often a year or two--before converting to Medicaid.

Once you've narrowed the field by phone, visit communities personally. If it's appropriate for your parent to join you, take her with you to the top two or so. Once you find something suitable, don't delay.

Be patient and flexible. Medicaid openings are few and far between, so don't expect to find a community five minutes from your home. Good luck!

Can you tell us about your journey looking for a Medicaid opening for your aging parent?

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