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Experienced, Compassionate Legal Guidance For The Issues Of Aging

Can Medicaid Planning Help Pay For Nursing Home Costs?

With the monthly cost of care in a nursing home averaging in excess of $10,000 in the Denver and Boulder metropolitan areas, one of the greatest challenges faced by elders and their families is how to pay for such care. For many, the Medicaid program is there to help.

Medicaid Qualification Requirements

To qualify for Medicaid for long-term care, the Medicaid applicant must:

  • Need a nursing home or assisted living level of care
  • Have gross monthly income of less than $10,551 in the Denver metro area (the income of the well spouse is not included in this calculation)
  • Not have more than $2,000 in countable assets: Countable assets do not include a home, an automobile, prepaid burial/funeral plans, small life insurance policies, medical equipment or most personal property

For married couples, there are some very important protections. First, the well spouse is entitled to keep $2,289 of the couple’s income (increased to a maximum of $3,715 if the well spouse has certain additional qualified expenses). Then, in addition to the home, car, personal property and other exempt assets, the well spouse is also permitted to retain roughly $148,000 in countable assets.

If a Medicaid applicant has countable assets in excess of the permissible amount ($2,000 if single; $148,000 if married), then there are Medicaid planning strategies that can be used to protect their estate. One set of strategies involves converting excess countable assets into exempt assets. For instance, the well spouse might use some of the assets in excess of $148,000 to make improvements to the home, purchase a newer automobile, prepay burial/funeral plans for both spouses, etc.

The other set of Medicaid planning strategies involves giving away assets. This only works if it’s done just right. The law has severe penalties for people who give away their assets to create Medicaid eligibility. If it’s done properly, however, a significant portion of a person’s assets can often be preserved.

Support From A Knowledgeable Colorado Medicaid Lawyer

Because Medicaid is a very complex and rapidly changing area of law and this is only a brief summary, individuals considering Medicaid should seek the assistance of a knowledgeable elder law attorney prior to acting on any such information. Our experienced Medicaid lawyer invites you to reach out for additional guidance or contact either of our offices to schedule an initial appointment by calling 303-500-5859 in Englewood or 303-720-7260 in Boulder County.