Medicaid isn't the easiest federal program to navigate. A Certified Medicaid Planner (CMP) can help. A CMP has expert-level experience with Medicaid program and can help people navigate both current and new Medicaid rules. If you need help navigating Medicare, learn what it is and why one might be a good fit for you.
What Is a Certified Medicaid Planner?
Even if your have a basic understanding of Medicare, rules and guidelines change. It can be hard to keep up with Medicaid, but a Certified Medicaid Planner can help. A CMP is a professional in the Medicaid field who is certified by the Certified Medicaid Planning Governing Board. Certification is received after a final certification exam is passed. Every three years, CMPs are required to complete 20 continuing education hours.
You might find a CMP among:
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)
Financial Advisors, including CFPs, stockbrokers, investment advisors, and insurance and annuity agents
Medicaid planning and elder law attorneys
Nursing home staff
Geriatric care workers
Funeral home directors
A CMP's goal is to give you the most cost-effective and legal plan that's the best fit for your Medicaid situation. Not everyone's Medicaid path is the same. A CMP should help you navigate your specific Medicaid strategy as well as implementing that strategy. Medicaid isn't one-size-fits-all, and what someone else qualifies for might not be the best fit for you.
After you and your CMP have developed your tailor-made Medicaid plan, they can even submit your application on your behalf or help you with any Medicaid-related issues going forward.
One of the biggest focuses of a CMP is to plan for long-term care through Medicaid. Though the program is exceptionally complex, it's still a government-funded program with benefits. Navigating life on your own or helping a loved one is enough work, which is why having a CMP help you throughout the process is a benefit to your planning.
Certified Medicaid Planner Requirements
The rules and regulations to becoming a CMP are stringent and not everyone qualifies. For instance, you'll need either:
A Bachelor's or Associate's degree plus two years of full-time experience in one or more Medicaid-related fields, like law, finance, and social work. And these must've been done within the last six years;
A Juris Doctorate or Master's degree in accounting, social work, or health financing;
Four years of full-time experience in one or more Medicaid-related planning fields that occurred within the last six years;
Received professional securities license or licenses for life and health insurance in at least one state, or a CFP designation, along with two years of full-time experience in one or more Medicaid-related fields within the last six years.
The minimum experience requirement includes working in at least one of the following fields:
Medicaid program administration
Care management or social work
As mentioned earlier, a CMP must be certified by the Certified Medicaid Planning Governing Board. Candidates must pass a final certification exam. Once certified, a CMP must complete 20 hours of continuing education every three years. They also pay $250 every three years to renew their certification.
How to Find a CMP
If you're on the hunt for a Certified Medicaid Planner, you'll need to know how to find one.
You can use the CMP Board's CMP locator to find one near you. Put in your zip code and see which ones are available where you live. You can also use the American Council on Aging's form to find a Medicaid planner.
A good rule is to look for someone that has the "CMP" designation in their name, title, or signature. But you'll still need to do your due diligence since not everyone who uses the CMP designation has earned their status. If you're unsure of someone is a CMP or want to verify they are who they say they are, you can use FINRA's Verify a CMP tool. You'll put in your details as well as those of the person you want to check out. Once you submit your request, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) will get back to you within a business day to verify your request.
Don't hesitate to reach out to friends and family for recommendations. Since CMPs can come in many different variations, consider asking lawyers, accountants, social workers, or other care management professionals for recommendations. While you may not know someone personally, others may have someone they know who can help you out.
If you've used a CMP who you believe violated their ethical duties, you can submit a grievance to the CMP Board for review. Other issues, like fee disputes, don't count towards ethical violations and should not be submitted.
Going through the maze of Medicaid isn't the easiest task, and you shouldn't feel obligated to navigate it alone. Finding a Certified Medicaid Planner gives you the chance not only to learn what you're eligible for, but it's someone who can tailor-make a plan that's best for you.
Consider asking for help, especially with a complex system like Medicaid. It's better to have assistance and get it right than do it yourself and risk getting it wrong. A CMP works to get it right, the first time, just for you.
Don't go through something as financially complex as Medicaid alone. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you're looking for local advisors who can help you achieve your financial goals, start now. Since some advisors are also CMPs, you might be able to get financial help as well as Medicaid help. You'll complete a short questionnaire and then get three different professionals in your area to choose from. This can help you find someone that fits your situation best.
While Medicare and Medicaid sound very similar, they're not quite the same. Medicaid targets Americans in need. It currently covers more than 65 million Americans. Medicare is health insurance for those 65 and older. As of 2018, nearly 60 million Americans are on this plan. As you move through the process of finding help, make sure you get an expert in the field you need it for.
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