Medicaid Planning also known as MassHealth
For most, the thought of Medicaid planning never crosses their mind. That is until something happens and one is confronted with the prospect of having to deplete his/her assets in order to pay for long-term medical treatment. Who wants to handle the long arduous process of dealing with both the state and federal government in order to secure benefits? The short answer is that nobody does. Luckily, there is a solution. With planning now you will see that if this situation does occur you will be in a position that will make the entire process much easier and less complicated.
So, what is Medicaid?
Simply stated, Medicaid is a combined federal and state program that provides medical benefits to those who are either disabled, below the income threshold or over the age of 65. It was created as a last resource when there is no other way to pay for medical care. Very few understand the program of Medicaid, what it offers, how to qualify for it, and the detailed nuances of this program. We have provided more information below to further detail the seriousness of this type of planning. However, as with anything having to pertain to your estate plan, a professional should be consulted.
Massachusetts Medicaid Guidelines
Both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the federal government have their own guidelines as to what must be met in order to qualify for Medicaid. Luckily, Massachusetts is leading the pack in reforming programs to provide additional health care coverage which, in turn, makes the guidelines less stringent compared to other states.
Why should I plan in the event that I need Medicaid?
Since Medicaid does take into account certain assets and income, it is best to plan and structure such resources so that they do not disqualify you from meeting the Medicaid criteria.
· First, you want to protect your assets in a way that they do not count against you for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid. There are specific guidelines about what is considered countable assets and countable income. Through proper planning, it is possible to retain your assets and income so that they are not considered countable.
· Second, you want to protect your assets so that you have a legacy to pass on to your loved ones. By creating and placing your assets in an irrevocable trust, you are both excluding it from becoming countable income and protecting it so that your loved ones can receive it upon your death.
· Third, if you are married your spouse may be greatly limited in the assets he/she can have which would limit the healthy spouse’s ability to afford to live. Once again, there are ways to overcome this hurdle.
What are the risks of not planning for Medicaid?
As with anything else pertaining to the government there are always risks if you do not plan accordingly and follow the proper procedures. What exactly are these risks?
·One of the biggest risks is the improper transfer of assets. If this is found, this can ultimately lead to a delay in when you become eligible for Medicaid. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts calculates the penalty period by dividing the amount that was actually transferred by $8,730. Each amount of $8,730 that was transferred equates to one month that you will not be eligible for Medicaid and the accompanying long-term medical benefits.
· Another risk and way that the government can recover if impropriety is found is through the interception of money owed from your estate. Even though the idea of this may be daunting, there are ways to avoid even the possibility of any claim to your assets by the government with the proper planning.
As you can see, Medicaid planning is not simple and straightforward, but instead it is a complex, detailed process. Long-term health care is expensive, and most individuals are simply not equipped to pay for this without completely depleting their assets. Don’t let medical bills eat up all of the assets you worked hard to accrue across your lifetime. Instead, let our firm, who are professionals in Medicaid planning, handle this for you. We pride ourselves on knowing the details and nuances of Medicaid planning in Massachusetts, and we want to help you.
Plan now while you still can. Your health is not guaranteed and should a medical emergency occur you want to ensure that you are taken care of. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. We handle the work now so that you do not have to deal with the government in the future!