When discussing Medicaid I find that many people understand the asset limit – that one can have no more than $2000 in assets to qualify for Medicaid. What many misunderstand, however, is the asset limitation for married couples. A common response especially from the healthy spouse in a second marriage when I ask about finances is “this is his money and this is mine. Medicaid can’t touch my money.” At this point in the conversation is when I must correct that misconception to a very unhappy reaction.
“How can they make spend my money”, is another common question. The State does this by playing “keep away”. If my spouse is in a facility and I don’t spend down my assets to the required level then my application for Medicaid will be denied but I still have to cover the long term care expense. The facility needs to be paid so I don’t have a choice. That’s how the State gets me to spend my money. They just refuse to give me the benefits.
How much can I keep of “my money” exactly? That depends. I can keep my home that I live in, a car, and the contents of my home but pretty much everything else is countable. Medicaid totals all those assets that I and my spouse own and divide in half but I can only keep at most $126,420 and that’s if I have $252,840 or more.
So, is that it? Well, actually no. With some strategizing we can do a lot better than that for the healthy spouse. Next week I’ll tell you more.