Medicaid is called MassHealth in Massachusetts. It’s a joint federal/state assistance program designed to pay for health care for individuals that meet certain income and asset guidelines. To qualify for MassHealth your total resources and income must fall below some fairly stringent eligibility limits, and there are also restrictions on how you can transfer assets.
If you’re a homeowner, here’s what you should know about using MassHealth to pay for your nursing home care:
- You don’t have to sell your house to qualify for MassHealth; however, it’s likely the state will put a lien on the house while you’re in the nursing home and try to recover the property after you pass away.
- Your home won’t be considered part of your assets when determining your eligibility for MassHealth as long as you intend to return home and your equity interest in the home does not exceed $893,000 (for 2020). The equity value is the fair market value of the house minus debts secured by the home (e.g., mortgage, home equity loan). If you own the home jointly with someone else, your equity interest is half the home’s equity value. This home equity rule doesn’t apply if your spouse or child who is under the age of 21 or is blind or disabled lives in your home, or if a sibling with an equity interest in that house lives there.
- It’s likely that MassHealth will try to recover the costs of paying for your care by either putting a lien on your house, so they get paid if the house is sold, or pursuing estate recovery from your probate estate after you pass away. Note: If the house is sold while you’re alive, you will stop being eligible for MassHealth due to the money you get from the sale.
By planning ahead, we can help you arrange your assets to protect them from long-term care costs and qualify you for MassHealth assistance without losing your life’s savings. In order to utilize a strategy such as this, however, timing is key — you can’t just wait for an emergency to hit, you must plan now.
As an experienced Massachusetts elder law attorney, I understand the ins and outs of MassHealth law and have accumulated a wide variety of techniques to help you with MassHealth planning. Contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.299.6976 to set up a free, confidential consultation.