Understanding Nursing Home Medicaid in Michigan

Nursing home Medicaid is something which many people do not think about until they find themselves in a position of needing it.  For those nearing retirement, Medicaid usually comes up when they urgently need long-term care in a nursing home.  This kind of care is not covered by Medicare beyond a limited number of days.  An individual who requires long-term care must then turn to their own funds, a long-term care insurance plan, or Medicaid.   Here are some considerations regarding Michigan Medicaid.

The Medicaid Program

Michigan Medicaid is a federal program which is overseen by the state.  In Michigan, this program is sometimes called “Medical Assistance” or MA. The program pays for certain medical expenses for residents 65 or older or who qualify due to other conditions. 

Qualifying for Michigan Medicaid

The Michigan Department of Human Services determines an individual’s eligibility for Medicaid.  A recipient can have up to $2000 in personal assets and still qualify for Medicaid.  The program permits recipients to keep certain property such as their residence, a vehicle, and household personal property, and remain eligible, but there are numerous rules about how other assets will be treated.  Additionally, assets are viewed differently when a couple is married.

The Spend Down

Those who have more than $2000 in countable assets may have to get rid of or “spend down” their property to qualify for Medicaid.   There are also complicated gifting strategies that may allow a Medicaid applicant to give away a portion of their assets and still qualify for Medicaid.  However, the program has a five-year look-back period which permits it to review all of your asset transactions and transfers during the five-year-period before you applied, so you must strictly follow the rules in order to remain eligible.   If the program decides you gave assets away in a prohibited manner, you could be ineligible for a period of time.

Marital Property

Married couples are treated differently than single individuals and there are additional asset protection strategies available.

What everyone needs to understand when dealing with a long-term care situation in Michigan is that there are options available.  For single people, we can generally protect the home and over 50% of asset, sometimes much more.  For married couples, we can generally protect the home and 100% of their assets.  These are very technical strategies and require time and careful planning.  But, it is never too late and these strategies work both before and after your loved one enters a nursing home.  

Michigan Medicaid rules can be complicated, but the program can be a vital resource for those who need long-term care.  With careful planning you can protect your assets and still be eligible.  However, this kind of preparation or Medicaid Planning needs to be done with the advice of an experienced attorney, and the earlier you start, the more you can protect. 

We know how to plan for Medicaid while protecting your assets and can help you understand your choices and make informed decisions.  Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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