If you were fortunate enough all your life to have private or employer sponsored health insurance, you likely know very little about Medicaid. During your “golden years”, however, you may find that you, or your spouse, need to depend on the benefits offered by the Medicaid program to cover the high costs associated with long-term care. Having heard stories about what happens to people’s assets when they do apply for Medicaid, you may be wondering “ Does the state take my assets when I go on Medicaid? ” A better understanding of the Medicaid program, including the eligibility guidelines, may help answer that question.
Medicaid is a federally funded, but state administered, healthcare program for low income individuals and families. As such, there are both income and asset limits that cannot be exceeded by applicants. Although the program limits vary by state, they are typically very low. As a retiree, your income may not be an issue; however, your countable resources, or those assets that are not exempt, may be. If you have worked hard and saved all your life there is a good chance that your assets will exceed the program limit if you have not included Medicaid planning in your estate plan up to this point.
If your countable resources do exceed the program limit you will have to “spend down” those limits before Medicaid will start covering healthcare related expenses for you. In essence, you must use all of your non-exempt assets to pay your bills before you will receive help. Therefore, while the state does not actually take your assets when you apply for Medicaid, you will likely lose some of them if you did not plan ahead.
The way to avoid losing assets is to include Medicaid planning in your overall estate plan early on in your life. If you suddenly find that you need to qualify for Medicaid though, and did not include Medicaid planning early on, you should still consult with your New York estate planning attorney as there may be legal Medicaid planning strategies that you may still employ to help protect some of your assets. For example, you may be able to convert a non-exempt asset into an exempt asset.
If you have additional questions or concerns about Medicaid planning or estate planning in general, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia, by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.