According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, “Wisconsin Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides high-quality health care coverage, long-term care, and other services to over one million Wisconsin residents.”
The Medicaid program for seniors can significantly help the elders who need many types of long-term care including nursing care, assisted living, memory care, and even in-home services. However, Medicaid has strict eligibility requirements that must be diligently adhered to. In order to make the most of the program and ensure that you are eligible for benefits, it’s important to make a plan several years before you’ll need it.
Here are five things you need to know about Medicaid planning in Wisconsin:
#1 - To qualify for Medicaid, you may only have $2,000 of countable assets.
If $2,000 of assets seems low to you, that’s because it is. Countable assets include everything except the following:
● One house (the home you live in)
● One car (even if it’s a married couple)
● A funeral arrangement (typically in a trust or a prepaid funeral arrangement from a funeral home)
● Household goods and furnishings (such as a sofa, a dining table and chairs, etc.)
#2 - If you plan early, you can arrange to keep most of your money with a solid estate plan.
Planning for Medicaid can be complicated, but it’s worth the work if you’d like to keep more of the money you’ve worked your whole life to earn. A skilled estate planning attorney can help you manage your assets and legal documents so that you and your family get to keep more of it.
Even if you have not planned early, there is often a great economic benefit to consulting with an elder law attorney. If you are already in a nursing home, or are about to move to a nursing facility, an elder law attorney can usually help the family plan to save many thousands in assets over what you would otherwise be left with, while not sacrificing the quality of care.
#3 - If you are well and your spouse needs care in a nursing or assisted living facility, you may retain up to $130,380 in countable assets.
If your health is good but your spouse requires ongoing care, the Medicaid eligibility requirements change. In this case, you’re allowed to keep half of your countable assets, up to $130,380 but no less than $50,000.
In addition, your spouse who requires care will be able to retain $2,000 in countable assets. Between the two of you, you’ll be able to keep up to $132,380.
Note: The eligibility requirements change every year to account for inflation and the cost of living. The numbers listed here are for the year 2021.
#4 - Gifts can impact your Medicaid eligibility.
When it comes to gifts, Medicaid has a five-year look-back period. That means any gifts you give within 5 years of applying for Medicaid can have an adverse impact on your eligibility for the program.
All gifts within 5 years of applying for Medicaid may be considered a divestment and will trigger a penalty period in which you will be ineligible for benefits. The length of the penalty period depends on the size of the gift. Generally, gifts that are $100 or less are not a problem, but it depends on the county.
#5 - Medicaid is not the same as Medicare.
The names sound similar, but the programs are very different. Medicare is a national program everyone pays into that pays for inpatient and outpatient care. Anyone can get Medicare regardless of their wealth. Medicare does not pay for long-term care.
Medicaid is a joint national-and-state program that helps many people including elders in need of long-term care. Not just anyone can get Medicaid because it is typically reserved for those who meet certain financial criteria. Planning ahead can make sure that you can more easily meet Medicaid financial criteria, and retain more of your assets.
If you have assets you’d like to protect and still be eligible for Medicaid when the time comes, it’s in your best interest to reach out to a skilled Wisconsin Medicaid planning attorney right away.
Even if you’re not rich, if you have more than $2,000 in assets, you’ll likely want to do everything you can to keep your money for you and your family. Don’t delay—reach out right away to discuss your situation with our skilled Medicaid planning attorney.
Contact our Medicaid planning attorneys today at (608) 344-5491 to schedule a case review. We are proud to serve Madison and Oregon, WI, Middleton, Verona, Sun Prairie, Janesville, and surrounding areas.