MassHealth and Property Seizures

MassHealth (Massachusetts’ Medicaid program) is a nebulous program for many people. In short, it connects its participants to affordable health care. MassHealth provides cheaper heath care rates to qualifying participants.

The program is flexible and covers all sorts of various scenarios to help as many people as possible. In general, to qualify for MassHealth, you must be:

– A resident of Massachusetts
– At a low to medium income level
– Able to spend down your assets to $2,000.00

Most of the money you gather as you spend down your assets will be used to pay for your health care. Spending down has exceptions – if you have a healthy spouse living in the state, you can transfer your assets to your health spouse living in the community without jeopardizing your eligibility.

MassHealth Will Not Take Your House

One of the common misconceptions about MassHealth is that it will take your house. Unless you have a dependent child or spouse living therein or are planning on returning to the home, MassHealth will place a lien on the property. However, this is irrelevant unless they seek to recover their costs after you pass away and your estate is probated. If the house is not considered part of the probate estate post mortem because it is co-owned by a family member, it cannot be touched. Only a well qualified Elder Law Attorney should assist you with this to make sure it is done properly and you are not denied MassHealth Benefits when you need it.

How MassHealth Deals With Other Assets

Trusts, IRAs, and other assets may be accessed by MassHealth to recover costs. There are many different and specific scenarios for assets, which is why it can be highly beneficial to hire a well qualified Elder Law Attorney to help you explore your options. Here are a few things to know about these assets:

– Pooled trusts can be used to “recover costs” but only up to the dollar amount MassHealth expended on your health care costs
– There are non-countable assets that you may be able to keep
– Retirement accounts are considered countable assets

One of the ways to preserve some of your finances is to create a very specific trust that you will be able to use to manage your life savings. You cannot be the principal beneficiary, and the trust cannot be revocable. You can transfer assets to this trust and may still remain eligible for MassHealth. It is very important and advisable to contact an Elder Law Attorney who is current on all the latest laws, rules, and requirements associated with the MassHealth process to protect your assets for future Long-Term Care needs. Laws and MassHealth rules are constantly changing, a well qualified Elder Law Attorney will be up-to-date on all this changes.

There are three important things to remember about MassHealth:

– MassHealth pays for comprehensive care
– It may, only in very specific instances, “take” an asset to help cover costs
– Even when it does “take,” its claim to reimbursement is low

MassHealth is not a perfect system, but it has many benefits for those who prepare early before it is actually needed.