If your spouse were applying for Medicaid to pay for long-term care and you were still living at home, you would be referred to as the community spouse. Because of the asset and income limits, there are certain provisions in place to provide minimal protections for the community spouse. One of them is the monthly maintenance needs allowance. Under the rules of the Medicaid program, most of the income that is due to the institutionalized spouse must be used to help defray the long-term care costs. However, there are benefits for the healthy spouse so discuss your Huntersville Medicaid planning options with our attorney.
Understanding the basics of Medicaid
The Medicaid program is a health insurance program that is jointly administered by the federal and state governments. Most people are aware that Medicaid is in place to help people who have very limited resources. If you work throughout your life, you earn retirement credits, and you will qualify for Medicare when you reach the age of 65. This can lead to the belief that all of your health care needs will be covered when you obtain Medicare eligibility. That may not be the case, which is why Huntersville Medicaid planning is so important.
Medicare alone cannot cover the expense of nursing home care
Medicare will provide you with very sound coverage, for what it covers. However, there is a very big potential expense that Medicare will not cover. The Medicare program will pay for a portion of up to 100 days of convalescent care after a three day hospital admission, but it will not pay for custodial care. This is the type of care that you would receive if you resided in a nursing home.
Nursing homes are extremely expensive all around the country. People often spend multiple years receiving care, with the average being just over two years according to a government survey. Medicaid does pay for long-term care, and this is why many people who were never financially needy before long-term care find that the program is relevant to them at some point in time.
Huntersville Medicaid planning is important
When you are budgeting for the future, you should certainly be aware of potential long-term care costs. It may be hard to imagine no longer being able to handle all of your own day-to-day needs. However, statisticians tell us that most American seniors will eventually require living assistance. Long-term care is very expensive. For many, Medicaid is the solution, because, as discussed above, Medicare won’t pay for long-term care.
What assets Medicaid will count when evaluating your eligibility depends on what assets you have, how much, and your family situation. People typically qualify for Medicaid through a Medicaid spend down, divesting themselves of assets in ways that are permitted by Medicaid regulations before applying for the program.
The Medicaid Community Spouse Resource Allowance
Since Medicaid is intended for people with financial need, there is a $2000 limit on countable assets. However, if you are married, your spouse is entitled to a Community Spouse Resource Allowance. This allowance is equal to half of the countable assets that are shared by the couple in question. However, there is a limit that is subject to change every year. There is also a minimum Community Spouse Resource Allowance. This is the amount that the healthy spouse can keep, even if it is more than half of the shared countable assets.
Critically, though, the Medicaid laws often allow a community spouse to keep assets in addition to the Community Spouse Resource Allowance, but Medicaid planning is required to protect those assets.
The Medicaid Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance
If the community spouse is relying on the other spouse’s income to maintain a minimal standard of living, the community spouse may be entitled to a monthly maintenance needs allowance. Income that would have otherwise gone toward the cost of care can be retained by the healthy spouse.
Because the Medicaid program is jointly administered by each respective state along with the federal government, each state has some latitude with regard to the exact way that the program is implemented. There is a maximum Medicaid monthly maintenance needs allowance for each state.
When you recognize it is likely that you may need long-term care at some point in time, you will invariably have concerns. Do not hesitate to discuss these concerns with one of our Medicaid attorneys. Nursing home expenses can easily exhaust your life savings if you do not have some type of plan in place. Medicaid pays for most of the long-term care that is received by seniors so it is an important solution for many.
Join us for a FREE seminar today! If you have questions regarding various Medicaid benefits or any other Huntersville Medicaid planning matters, please contact the experienced attorneys at The Potter Law Firm for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (704) 944-3245 (Huntersville, NC or Charlotte, NC) or for individuals in Kentucky at (606) 324-5516 (Ashland, KY) or at (859) 372-6655 (Florence, KY).