Understanding Medicaid Look-Back Period
A lot of people are not aware of the fact that Medicare does not pay for an extended stay in a nursing home or an assisted
living community. If you are thinking that this is no big problem because you have some savings you would do well to
understand just how expensive long-term care has become in the United States.
In 2012 the average expense for an annual stay in a private room in a nursing home has exceeded $90,000. This figure
represents a 3.8% increase over 2011 figures, and it furthers the ongoing trend toward upward spiraling.
How do people who simply do not have this kind of money to spare address long-term care costs?
The answer for many is Medicaid. This government program will pay for long-term assisted living expenses if you can
Theoretically Medicaid is a program intended for people whose assets do not exceed $2000 in total value. However, some
of your most valuable resources do not count when your eligibility is being considered. These would include your home,
your vehicle, and many of your personal belongings.
If you are married and you were to need long-term care your spouse would be able to keep his or her half of the assets up to
a prescribed limit. (This limit is $113,640 in 2012.)
Many people will "spend down" in an effort to reduce their assets in advance of applying for Medicaid. You can do this, but
there is a five-year "look back" period.
This means that you may not divest yourself of assets within five years of applying for the program. If you do you are
penalized, and your eligibility is delayed.
Medicaid can provide a solution to a very difficult challenge. However, due to the intricacies of the rules governing the
program the wise course of action is to work with an elder law attorney if you are aiming toward eligibility.
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