Colorado Springs expert demystifies Medicaid and the health care systemOct 30, 2023 11:34AM ● By Karin Hill
Something as simple as filling out a Medicaid application might be more of a challenge than most people bargain for, especially when health changes are present. Jennifer Erickson, 56, brings a breadth of education and experience to these challenges, with a heart for the people behind them.
In April 2017, Erickson walked out of the long-term care industry and started AAA Medicaid Consulting, LLC, to assist people applying for Medicaid in maximizing their health coverage and finances.
She explained that when a person receives an initial diagnosis of a disease, whether it’s dementia, COPD, diabetes or MS, it frequently involves significant lifestyle adjustments and expenses. For some seniors, applying for Medicaid may be their only means to cover these expenses.
Erickson works with nursing facilities, lawyers and financial planners, and is well versed in tools like reverse mortgages that help people avoid financial crises. She addresses concerns such as what happens to one’s home, and how assets affect Medicaid eligibility.
“If you want your assets preserved for your heirs and you get a diagnosis, you need to distribute assets now so that you can leverage your wealth against the high cost of health care,” said Erickson.
Medicaid has specific guidelines for gifting, and large assets such as real estate should be gifted carefully and at the right time, so as not to incur penalties or render the person ineligible for benefits.
DEMYSTIFYING THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
Following her departure from the mortgage industry in 2008, Erickson worked multiple jobs and attended college classes in the evenings. One of these jobs was working as a receptionist at Pikes Peak Care and Rehab.
Over the following years, she acquired a comprehensive understanding of managing a nursing home, including the superfluous intricacies of our healthcare system, particularly when it comes to transitioning to long-term care.
“As a taxpayer, I got very angry,” said Erickson, “because we fund these programs, and we vote for the people who run them. For us to have guidelines and protocols so buried in the minutia as a cost-savings measure made me angry.”
She decided to pursue her Ph.D. and worked on developing the premise for her company, which helps people navigate the challenges of aging and the complex world of Medicaid, Medicare and nursing facilities.
“I theorized a solution that there could be someone who has all the credentialing that I have to go into the street and ‘direct the traffic,’” she said.
Erickson disseminates information that she says “your lawyer and financial planner won’t tell you,” giving families other options and opening their eyes to the reality of the administrative side of the health care crisis.
TURNING QUESTIONS INTO SOLUTIONS
Erickson notes that when it comes to healthcare, there are strategies to maximize most choices.
“When I meet with people, I walk in and say, ‘What’s your diagnosis and prognosis? What do you want to see happen as a family?’ And then I make it happen.”
Erickson is an administrative liaison between hospitals and long-term care, a payor resource case manager and a Medicaid real estate specialist. She said that helping people understand payor sources, including where they begin and end, is the least she can do for her community.
“I actually enjoy this type of education,” she said. “When I can walk into a room and speak to a family and have them crying when I walk in and joking and laughing when I walk out, that’s the magic.”
Contact AAA Medicaid Consulting at 719-459-2519 to make an appointment. Rates vary based on the exact services offered and what individuals already have in place.
AAA Medicaid Consulting can also help with:
- Initial application process to Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) or Long-Term Medicaid
- Assistance with redetermination packets
- Assistance with income trusts
- Assistance troubleshooting concerns related to existing Medicaid
- Financial eligibility reviews for Medicaid benefit considerations
- Free consultations
- Medicaid real estate assistance