Throughout the course of your working career, you may have been fortunate enough to have been covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. As such, you may never have needed to qualify for Medicaid to help cover healthcare-related expenses. As a senior, however, you may find yourself turning to Medicaid for help covering the high cost of long-term care for yourself or a spouse. Will you qualify for Medicaid for seniors in North Dakota? The Fargo Medicaid attorneys at German Law Group offer an overview of the Medicaid for seniors eligibility requirements.
Why Would I Need to Qualify for Medicaid as a Senior?
As you age, the odds of needing long-term care increase with each passing year. When you enter your retirement years you already stand a 50-70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care (LTC) services before the end of your life. The longer you live, the higher the odds that you will end up in a nursing home – and the cost of that care will be high. In fact, at an average of $130,000 a year for 2017, North Dakota has some of the highest LTC costs in the nation. Although you may rely on Medicare to cover most of your healthcare expenses once you retire, you won’t be able to turn to Medicare for LTC expenses because Medicare won’t cover them. Neither will most health insurance policies. It is for this reason that over half of all seniors currently in an LTC facility rely on Medicaid for help paying their bill – because Medicaid does cover LTC.
Qualifying for Medicaid as a Senior in North Dakota
Unless you can afford to pay for LTC out of pocket, you need to know if you will qualify or Medicaid should you need it in the future. As a senior, the following eligibility guidelines apply:
- You cannot have countable resources (assets) that exceed $3000 if you apply as an individual. If you are married your assets cannot exceed $6,000. If your assets exceed the limit, your application will be denied and you will have to “spend-down” those assets until they fall below the limit.
- Certain assets are exempt when considering eligibility for Medicaid, including, but not limited to:
- Your home; however, the maximum amount of home equity allowed is $572,000 for 2018
- One automobile
- Burial plans (with limits)
- Self-employment property (including tools, equipment, and livestock)
- Non-saleable property, personal effects and clothing, household goods, and furniture
- Indian trust and restricted lands and per capita and judgment funds.
- Different asset rules apply if one spouse is in a nursing home and the other spouse remains at home. The spouse receiving the nursing care services is allowed $3000. The spouse who remains in the community is entitled to keep half of the couple’s countable assets, but not less than $24,720 and not more than $123,600 for calendar year 2018.
- Your income cannot exceed the current income limit which is determined by your household size and geographic area and is subject to change each year.
- The spouse receiving the nursing care services may keep up to $65 of their monthly income and may deem income to bring the income of the spouse in the community up to $2,550 per month and any dependent household members up to $677. They also keep enough to cover their health insurance premiums and certain other expenses.
- Individuals residing in an Intermediate Care Facility are allowed $100 to meet their personal needs. They also keep enough to cover their health insurance premiums and certain other expenses.
How Can Medicaid Planning Help?
If you are concerned about your ability to qualify for Medicaid without putting assets at risk, it is imperative that you incorporate Medicaid planning into your overall estate plan now. Planning ahead will ensure that you are not forced into Medicaid spend down not penalized for transferring assets in contemplation of applying for benefits.
Contact Fargo Medicaid Attorneys
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding Medicaid planning, contact the North Dakota Medicaid attorneys at German Law Group by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.