Privacy Rules and Advanced Medical Directives


Laura Blumenstiel, J.D. March 12, 2024

Medicaid is a federally funded program that provides health insurance to those who cannot afford to pay out of pocket. It is especially important for seniors, as Medicare may not cover all of their healthcare needs. In Ohio, Medicaid covers long-term care services, such as nursing home care and in-home aids. Seniors who need these services can apply for Medicaid and may receive benefits if their assets and income are under a certain amount.

The Ohio Department of Medicaid recently released eligibility requirements for 2024. In this article. we'll provide a comprehensive and up-to-date guide on Medicaid's asset and income limits, and offer some solutions if you don't currently meet the requirements.

Long-Term Care Medicaid Eligibility Requirements for Seniors in 2024

For single seniors who need nursing home care:

  • Income limit: $2,829/month

  • Asset limit: $2,000

For married seniors who both need nursing home care:

  • Income limit: $5,658/month

  • Asset limit: $3,000

For married seniors when only one spouse needs nursing home care:

  • Income limit for applicant: $2,829/month

  • Asset limit for applicant: $2,000

  • Asset limit for spouse: $154,140

The community spouse (the healthy spouse not applying for Medicaid), is allowed to stay in the house until they either need care or pass away. In most cases, the community spouse will also be allowed to retain a portion of the couple’s shared assets and income. This is known as spousal impoverishment protection.

Countable vs. Non-Countable Assets

In Ohio, not all of a person's assets count towards Medicaid eligibility. Some assets are exempt.

Countable assets include:

  • Cash

  • Certificates of Deposit

  • Stocks, bonds, and other investments

  • Checking, savings, brokerage and other bank accounts

  • Pensions

  • Non-primary residences (such as vacation homes, rental properties, etc.)

Non-countable assets include:

  • Personal belongs (such as jewelry and household items)

  • Furniture

  • The primary home

  • The primary automobile

  • Term life insurance with no cash value

What to Do If You Don't Meet Medicaid Eligibility Requirements

If you don't currently meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid, there are still options available to help with long-term care costs.

One option is a Medicaid Spend-Down Plan. Medicaid spend-down allows individuals to qualify for Medicaid by reducing their assets and income to a certain level. This can be done by selling off certain assets, placing assets into a trust, and/or gifting to family members. This process is very complex with strict rules and regulations. Any missteps could result in penalties or delays in eligibility. This is why it is important to work with an experienced Medicaid attorney.

Medicaid spend-down should be done at least five years before an individual needs care. Ohio has a "look-back period" which is crucial to qualifying for Medicaid. When applying, the county Jobs and Family Services Department will require you to provide bank statements and other financial records from five years prior. You will need to explain any 'improper transfers' (i.e., assets that were given away for less than fair market value). If you made improper transfers, a penalty period may be imposed, during which you'll be ineligible for Medicaid benefits.

If care is needed immediately, there are still some options available including a qualified income trust and/or a Medicaid-compliant annuity. A qualified Medicaid attorney can discuss how to preserve as much of your life savings as possible.

Seek Professional Help from an Experienced Ohio Medicaid Attorney

Navigating the Medicaid system can be overwhelming, which is why it is crucial to seek professional help from an experienced Ohio Medicaid attorney. They can guide you through the process and help you develop a comprehensive plan that meets your unique needs and goals.

It is possible to qualify for this vital program while protecting your assets. By understanding the various strategies and options available, you can receive the quality medical care you need without draining your savings. Just remember to start early. Your health and financial well-being are worth it. Call our office at 614-389-9711 to schedule a meeting with one of our experienced Medicaid attorneys.

Want to learn more about Medicaid and long-term care planning? Download our free eBook, Aging with Confidence, here.

About the Author

Having earned her law degree in 1997, Laura Blumenstiel has nearly three decades of legal experience. She is deeply committed to providing compassionate and effective legal services for our clients. Each day, she finds fulfillment in meeting with clients and meticulously crafting trusts and estate planning documents. Additionally, she works diligently on estate administration through probate court proceedings. She's passionate about helping individuals and families plan for the future and guiding them through the probate process during difficult times. She strives to make a genuine connection with all her clients.