When you hear the term “Medicaid attorneys,” you may wonder why anyone would need an attorney to try to obtain Medicaid coverage. The program is in place to provide health insurance for people with very limited resources, so you simply go to the appropriate agency and fill out the paperwork, right? Why would you need a lawyer to do this, and if you are not doing very well financially, how could you afford to pay legal fees for something that should be easy to accomplish for yourself?
These are good questions, and in fact, most low-income individuals that apply for Medicaid as a source of health insurance do not seek out legal advice. However, there is another facet to the program that many people do not think about until it is too late.
Medicare Limitations and Long-Term Care
If you work and pay taxes throughout your life, your FICA contributions go toward Social Security and Medicare. At the present time, the Medicare eligibility age is 65. We are including the qualifier “at the present time” because there are always legislators that suggest raising the age to cut costs.
This will provide a basic health insurance safety net, but it should be noted that there are out-of-pocket costs that you should prepare for when you are planning for retirement.
It can be hard to wrap your head around this phenomenon when you have been perfectly capable of handling all of your own activities of daily living without any help. However, if you look into the facts as you plan ahead for your senior years, you will find that it is very likely that you will need living assistance at some point in time. A government agency tells us that 70 percent of Medicare enrollees will someday need long-term care of some kind.
Many people who need ongoing care will reside in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Since Medicare is designed for people that are over 65, and most individuals in this age group will need living assistance eventually, you would assume that Medicare would pay for long-term care. Unfortunately, Medicare will not pay for a stay in a nursing home or assisted living community. It will assist with convalescent care, but the program does not absorb custodial care costs.
Qualifying for Medicaid
Now that we have set the stage, you will definitely understand why Medicaid attorneys are quite relevant, and this is especially true at this particular point in time. An unprecedented number of people are attaining senior citizen status, because members of the baby boomer generation are reaching their 60s. The fact that Medicare will not pay for long-term care is impacting a very significant percentage of the population, and people rightfully have concerns.
The good news is that Medicaid will pay for long-term care, and most people that are residing in nursing homes are Medicaid recipients. Many of these people were never financially needy when they were younger. With the assistance of Medicaid attorneys, they were able to position their assets wisely with future Medicaid eligibility in mind.
There is a very low asset limit of just $2000, and the income limit in Michigan in 2018 is $2000 a month. However, there are some things that are not considered to be countable assets. Your home is not counted, with an equity limit of $572,000. There is no equity limit at all if a healthy spouse is remaining in the home. One vehicle that is used as a primary form of transportation is not counted, and wedding rings, engagement rings, heirloom jewelry, and personal effects do not count toward this $2000 figure.
A Medicaid spend down strategy can be implemented to divest yourself of countable assets. This may sound easy enough on the surface. If and when you find out that you have to enter a long term care facility or nursing home, you can simply give your countable assets to loved ones who would be inheriting them anyway.
This would not be in the spirit of the Medicaid program, so there is a rule in place to prevent reactive divestitures. You cannot qualify for Medicaid if you give significant gifts or transfer assets into a trust within five years of the submission of your application. This is called a five-year look back period. To be qualified at the right time, you must plan ahead carefully, and Medicaid lawyers understand the most effective strategies.
Take the Next Step!
If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our Medicaid attorneys, call us at 586-493-7661 or send us a message through the contact page on this website.