Most people understand that Medicare and Medicaid are two separate forms of government-funded medical care insurance; however, that is where the understanding often ends. As people age, they are prepared for Medicare to begin covering them around age 65, and they typically understand what Medicare does and does not cover. Medicare is a given and is part of the regular vernacular. But what is Medicaid? Who qualifies and how does it work? And is it run by the state, the federal government, or both? The answers to these questions are more in-depth and complex than they appear; however, for the purposes of this blog, we will attempt to begin the conversation.
What is Medicaid?
According to Medicare.gov, Medicaid is a jointly run federal and state program that assists with help for medical costs if you meet certain income and/or disability requirements. In addition to providing standard insurance for income-based applicants, it can also assist Medicare recipients with care not covered by Medicare, such as long-term care or personal care: for example, home health care and hospice. It is important to note two things about Medicaid: (1) each state has their own rules for eligibility, and (2) if you are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligibility), Medicare will always pay first before Medicaid benefits are considered or utilized.
Minnesota and Medicaid
Minnesota's laws for Medicaid or Medical Assistance Program (as titled by the state) are outlined in detail on their website. Here are some key points that are necessary to know before you even consider if Medicaid is right for you. First, the income requirements for Medicaid are extremely low, making it more accessible for those living below the poverty line than those who are not on such a fixed income. A single person may have an income of only $973, while a married couple may have a joint income of $1,311. Please check with WL Brown Law Office as these figures change on a yearly basis. This does not include assets, which can be $3,000 for a single person and $6,000 for a married couple.
There are exceptions to these rules if long-term care is involved. For instance, if one spouse is living in a nursing home and the other is not, the spouse receiving long-term care can transfer income and assets to the other spouse. This is where it gets quite confusing, as figures and numbers vary depending on several factors. However, one important factor that does not vary is that the spouse receiving long-term care must use all of his or her income to pay for the care, while the spouse not living in a long-term care facility does not have to contribute to that expense. That means as long as the transfers are within the proper guidelines, the long-term care spouse can transfer much of his or her income to his or her spouse to increase the Medicaid benefit and provide a better livelihood for the spouse living within the community.
These are just a few examples of the laws affecting Medicaid in Minnesota. If you find yourself in need of assistance in obtaining or understanding Medicaid, there is help. The WL Brown Law Office specializes in Medicaid law in Minnesota and is happy to help. Contact them today at (612) 309-9184.