Medicaid among many questions on health-care coverage

With the latest open-enrollment session underway, readers have plenty of questions.

We’ll dive right in with an email from “goochipooch,” who writes:

“Because I made a low income last year, I was told to apply for Medicaid. In the application there was nothing about the government putting liens on assets upon death. This application said it in two different places, but it said they ‘may’ — the word ‘may’ — come after your assets upon death. Now that I know, I don’t think I want to be on Medicaid, but I make very little income. In fact, right now I’m unemployed. So what do you suggest? Can I get a low insurance plan?”

You might only recently have learned about asset recovery, goochipooch, but it’s been part of Medicaid rules since the early 1990s. For people on Medicaid, it’s income that matters, not net worth. That means it’s possible to qualify for the program even if you have retirement savings and a mortgage-free home — as long as you earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level wage, or $16,104 for a single in 2015.

If you don’t like it, you absolutely can opt out of Medicaid. No one can force you into the program, and you’re entitled to buy the private insurance plan of your choice. But go directly through a carrier or broker if that’s the path you want to take, because if you try to buy through Nevada Health Link or, your low income will push you straight to the Medicaid application. The online marketplace won’t let you buy a subsidized private plan if you qualify for Medicaid.

Before you opt out of Medicaid completely, you should know the state program has limits on when it can seize your assets. It can’t collect from you if you’re survived by a spouse, a child younger than 21 or a blind or disabled child of any age. Nor can it come after your property if you share your home with a sibling. The state might file a lien against those assets upon your death, but they typically won’t collect until after your spouse, child or sibling dies.

You also can protect what you own by putting it in someone else’s name, although you might have to transfer assets years before you re-enroll in Medicaid. That also would limit your access to your holdings. Whether you’re willing to give up that freedom is up to you.

■ Richard, a single dad of a 14-year-old, wrote to tell us he’s having trouble finding coverage options for his child. Richard has his son enrolled in a private discount program now, but he’s worried he’ll be fined for not buying insurance that meets the federal law’s strict coverage mandates. He wants to know what he should do.

Richard, based on the income and household situation you outlined in your email, your son is eligible for Nevada Checkup, a state-run insurance program for uninsured children of low-income families.

Nevada Checkup meets the coverage standards of the federal law. Go to, load in your information, decline coverage, put in your child’s details and then accept coverage. If you run into trouble with your application, let us know.

■ Shannon has a wide-ranging list of questions on everything from tax returns to citizenship. We enlisted broker Brent Leavitt of Nevada Benefits to help us sort it all out.

For starters, she and her husband, who now live in Nevada, skipped buying on their state’s exchange in the first enrollment session, instead purchasing directly through an insurer because they believed they made too much to get the federal premium subsidy. But their 2014 income ended up being considerably less than expected. Shannon wants to know if they can claim the tax credit on their upcoming tax return, even though they didn’t buy through a state exchange.

You’re out of luck on this one, Shannon. You did indeed need to buy through the exchange last fall to capture the tax credit. Also, if your income fell low enough — that would have been lower than $21,707 for both you and your husband, based on federal guidelines — then you wouldn’t qualify for a subsidy anyway because you would have been Medicaid-eligible, Leavitt said.

Shannon and her husband also are looking at converting their regular IRA to a Roth IRA before year’s end. Shannon asked if that conversion would be included in the income used to determine subsidy eligibility.

This one is simple: It counts as income if you declare it as earnings and pay taxes on it.

Next up, Shannon wanted to know about citizenship requirements. Her husband is a U.S. citizen, but she’s a legal U.S. resident who has had a green card for nearly two decades. Is she eligible as a noncitizen to buy a subsidized plan?

Most definitely. Noncitizens who are here lawfully are eligible for tax credits because they pay taxes.

And then there’s this question, which we’ve seen time and again: Do you only get a tax credit if you buy the benchmark silver plan? Or can you buy a higher-level platinum policy and receive a subsidy?

If you buy through the exchange and you make 138 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty wage, you should get a subsidy on any plan you purchase.

But here’s where we think the confusion comes in: You must buy a silver plan to qualify for cost-sharing reductions, which can slash your deductible from thousands to hundreds of dollars, and your office-visit copays to $5 or $10.

Cost-sharing reductions aren’t available on bronze, gold or platinum plans. If you make less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level, you’re probably eligible for cost-sharing reduction and should go for the silver, Leavitt said.

Finally, can a self-employed person getting a subsidy claim the self-employed health-insurance deduction on her tax return?

Leavitt said taking the deduction should be a go, but double-check that with your accountant just to be sure, Shannon.

Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Tech Park innovation building breaks ground
Construction on the first innovation building at the UNLV Tech Park is underway. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Forum Meeting Center
Caesars broke ground Monday on its $375 million Caesars Forum Meeting Center (convention center) just east of the High Roller observation wheel. (Caesars Entertainment)
Technology reshapes the pawn shop industry
Devin Battersby attaches a black-colored device to the back of her iPhone and snaps several of the inside and outside of a Louis Vuitton wallet. The device, installed with artificial intelligence capabilities, analyzes the images using a patented microscopic technology. Within a few minutes, Battersby receives an answer on her app. The designer item is authentic.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Nevada for one year
Exhale Nevada CEO Pete Findley talks about the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Young adults aren't saving for retirement
Financial advisors talk about saving trends among young adults. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump’s tariffs could raise costs for real estate developers, analysts say
President Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate, but by slapping tariffs on imports from close allies, developers in Las Vegas and other cities could get hit hard.
Las Vegas business and tariffs
Barry Yost, co-owner of Precision Tube Laser, LLC, places a metal pipe into the TruLaser Tube 5000 laser cutting machine on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Nevada Film Office Connects Businesses To Producers
The director of the Nevada Film Office discusses its revamped locations database and how it will affect local businesses. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Opendoor isn't the typical house flipping company
Unlike most house flippers, the company aims to make money from transaction costs rather than from selling homes for more than their purchase price.
The Venetian gondoliers sing Italian songs
Gondolier Marciano sings a the classic Italian song "Volare" as he leads guests through the canals of The Venetian in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Building In Logandale
Texas homebuilder D.R. Horton bought 43 lots in rural Logandale. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter announces plans to retire
Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the LVCVA, on Tuesday confirmed a Las Vegas Review-Journal report that he is preparing to retire. Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cousins Maine Lobster to open inside 2 Las Vegas Smith’s stores
Cousins Maine Lobster food truck company will open inside Las Vegas’ two newest Smith’s at Skye Canyon Park Drive and U.S. Highway 95, and at Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Cousins currently sells outside some Las Vegas Smith’s stores and at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices to continue to rise, expert says
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, gives homebuyers a pulse on the Las Vegas housing market. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NV Energy announces clean energy investment
The company is planning to add six solar projects in Nevada, along with the state's first major battery energy storage capacity. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Nevada has its first cybersecurity apprenticeship program
The Learning Center education company in Las Vegas has launched the first apprenticeship program for cybersecurity in Nevada. It was approved by the State Apprenticeship Council on May 15. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Las Vegas police officer on being PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door
Las Vegas police officer David Anthony talks vegan lifestyle and how he feels about being voted PETA's sexiest Vegan next door from his home on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like