Eligibility for Assistance from MassHealth to Pay for Long-Term Care

Given the high cost of long-term care, it’s not surprising that Medicaid (known as MassHealth in Massachusetts) is now the largest provider of funds for nursing home care in the United States. As I discussed in a previous article, MassHealth can also pay for home care, assisted living, and other forms of care available in the Commonwealth. 
The question is, how does one become eligible for assistance from MassHealth? The answer is complicated by the fact that various programs have different and ever-changing rules governing eligibility. In general, if you meet certain asset and income guidelines for the level of care you need, you are already eligible. But what if you exceed these limits?
Many people think they can simply give assets to loved ones to meet the guidelines and then become eligible. It’s not my place to tell you what to do with your money, but I can assure you that this “spend down” strategy is dangerous. When you apply for assistance from MassHealth, they will look into your financial transactions over the previous five years and any discrepancies will raise red flags. You could be deemed ineligible for MassHealth for months or even years depending on how many assets you gave away. This policy is known as the five-year look-back period.
Proper planning is a far better option. Much of my practice is dedicated to, most importantly, helping elders obtain the long-term care they need, and, to the extent possible, protecting their assets against the cost of such care. I welcome the opportunity to work closely with you to accomplish these goals.
Until next time, take care…
If I have created a plan for you and you are happy with it, the best compliment you can give me is to recommend my firm to family and friends.  As you know, everyone should have an estate plan.