Medicaid and Idaho Law 

One of the most unpleasant aspects of growing older is reaching the point in which you can no longer take care of yourself. Most people need, or at least plan for, long-term care services before they pass away. Because long-term care in a skilled nursing facility can be tremendously expensive, most people need to turn to Medicaid to pay for such care.

Long-term care can mean a lot of different things, but generally speaking long term care is needed when disability, cognitive impairments, or physical illnesses keep a person from living independently. When you can no longer complete all your self-care tasks, you will likely need some level of long term care.

Almost 70% of seniors receive this type of care at some point, either in a nursing home or in their own homes. On average this type of care lasts 3 years, and 1 in 5 elderly people need long term care for more than 5 years. The cost of this type of care can be a huge burden on your love ones and can be financially crushing.

Medicaid is a governmental program that pays for skilled nursing care for certain qualified individuals.  To qualify for Medicaid, an individual must essentially have no assets and very limited income. In practical terms, this means that an individual must liquidate all the assets they accumulated during their lifetimes to pay for their long-term care before they can obtain Medicaid assistance. Not only does this affect the non-institutionalized spouse, but also any inheritance someone may have wanted to leave their children upon their death.

An elder law or Medicaid attorney may be able to help you protect some of your assets and still qualify for Medicaid. There are many techniques that an attorney may utilize in this regard, and there are also techniques an elder law attorney can implement that allows your non-institutionalized spouse to retain assets and live comfortably without becoming impoverished. The best course of action is to plan early for these situations, but an elder law attorney can also help in the event of a crisis.

If you have questions about Medicaid, please contact our office for a free case consultation

FAQ’s 

What government program will pay for my nursing home costs?

In the US, the only government program that covers skilled nursing home care is Medicaid. This is a federal program administered by the states for qualified individuals that meet certain criteria, including falling below income and asset levels. Additionally, some veterans can qualify for veteran benefits to cover the costs of nursing home care.

How can I avoid being impoverished by the high cost of nursing home care?

This question has a lot of different variables including marital status, if you are already receiving care, and if you are anticipating a nursing home stay. Most lawyers do not recommend giving away assets before it becomes necessary or advisable in certain situations.

Will Medicare pay for my nursing home costs?

No, Medicare will not cover long-term care including day care at adult centers, home care or nursing home care. Medicare has limited benefits for skilled nursing care only.

How much do nursing homes cost?

Studies have shown the average nursing home stay is 2.5 years. The cost on average is $70,000 per year, meaning the average stay costs $170,000.

If my spouse is going into a nursing home, can he or she transfer all of his or her assets to me and qualify for Medicaid?

No, as simply transferring assets to a spouse will not necessarily lead to eligibility. A spouse’s assets are counted when Medicaid determines the eligibility of the individual to receive benefits. However, there are certain rules permitting a non-institutionalized to keep a certain amount of assets to keep from becoming impoverished.  An elder law lawyer can assist you through these maze of rules, and help you determine if you are eligible based on your assets, and how to handle assets if you are not qualified.

Can I transfer my assets to my children just before I go into a nursing home and still qualify for Medicaid?

In most cases the answer is no.  If you use a lawyer to create a plan well in advance, however, you may be able to disperse assets and qualify for Medicaid. This normally must occur before the “5 year look back” period Medicaid uses to determine eligibility. This is a big part of elder law and requires proper planning to be executed properly. Giving away your assets has legal ramifications – especially if you need them back. There are a lot of things to consider when giving away your assets and consulting a lawyer is the best course of action.

Should I use a trust to protect my assets?

The use of trusts can be an important component of a properly executed Medicaid eligibility strategy. An elder law attorney can determine whether a trust is an effective strategy only when looking at a person’s individual needs.

Are there other ways to protect my assets?

Yes.  Generally speaking, you are not penalized for using or spending your assets, only for giving them away. There are a lot of transfer-of-asset rules to consider, and there are some assets you can purchase that are not counted for purposes of Medicaid eligibility.

How can I protect my house?

In Idaho, a certain amount of an applicant’s equity in their principal residence can be excluded from determining assets for purposes of Medicaid eligibility. However, Idaho is an “enhanced estate recovery” state, and the state is permitted to recover any amounts expended on long term care from the retained residence. However, there are certain advanced techniques an elder law attorney can use in this regard to protect the home.

Isn't it wrong to hide assets in order to qualify for Medicaid?

Yes, hiding assets to allow you to qualify for Medicaid is against the law and can lead to criminal charges. Hiding assets is not what elder law attorneys do. Elder law attorneys help their clients to structure and plan their lives in a way to make them legally eligible for Medicaid. Full disclosure is the cardinal rule when it comes to Medicaid. Elder law attorneys will advise their clients on legal ways to plan for Medicaid eligibility. Some people don’t feel comfortable restructuring to qualify for Medicaid, which of course is a personal choice.

Should I hire an attorney to help me?

Yes. This is a vital step to creating a strategy for covering the costs of a nursing home. In the beginning the investment may be a concern, but when it comes to the extreme costs of a nursing home you will find it to be money well spent.