For Massachusetts residents who are making the difficult decision of putting a loved one in a nursing home, there are many issues that will come to the forefront. The elderly loved one getting the proper treatment and care is obviously at the top of the list. Still, people inevitably and justifiably will think about the financial component. Those who have various assets might think that MassHealth will take that into account when determining whether it will pay for coverage or not. To address this, it is important to know about how assets are counted, the equity limit and if transferring the assets is a wise step.
MassHealth rules for equity interest in a home and transferring property
There are limits as to what home equity can be when getting MassHealth coverage for nursing home care. Exceptions include relatives living in the home if one of the residents is: a spouse; a child who is permanently and totally disabled; a blind child; or a child under 21. Exceptions can be made if there is undue hardship. If the owner of the property leaves the home to live in a nursing care facility, then it is a countable asset. It is not countable if a spouse or relatives still live there; the prospective nursing home resident plans to return; or there is individual insurance that meets the necessary requirements. Those who do not meet these criteria have nine months to sell it, but that can be extended.
MassHealth is specific about whether the property was transferred or simply given away for less than it was worth. If it deems that this has taken place, then it might not pay for the nursing home care. It will look at the previous 60 months prior to the MassHealth application or before the person planning to live in the nursing home moves in – whichever comes later.
Understanding the MassHealth rules is vital for coverage
There is an understandable fear of losing what people have spent a lifetime working for simply because they or a loved one requires nursing home care. Under MassHealth, it does not need to be that way. To protect a home, it is critical to understand the law and have help with elder law issues. Consulting with those experienced in these cases is imperative and should be done from the outset to know how to proceed.