Understanding Medicaid Planning

by Jerrold Bartholomew

Sue Schiebel has written an excellent article on Medicaid Planning. While her article concerns MassHealth, which is the Massachusetts Medicaid program, the rules and ideas explained are the same in Michigan. She writes:

A lot of middle-aged people don’t realize Medicare, the federal health insurance program, pays for a very limited amount of skilled nursing home care. As we live longer, that means more of us will have to spend our own money for long-term care or must rely on MassHealth, the state health insurance for low income people. Many people wind up doing both — first using up many of their own assets to “spend down” to Medicaid limits so they are financially eligible for state help.

Medicaid qualification is a complex area of the law. To highlight just one counter-intuitive aspect, consider that donations to a church or charity are treated as gifts under the law. One making such a gift is technically creating a period of ineligibility for Medicaid. Strictly speaking, a person making significant donations to a church could be ineligible for Medicaid for several months after all other assets have been spent down. An elder law attorney helps families cope with these bizarre rules and avoid such unfortunate results.

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