Covering Your Care Needs in Maryland
As you age, it’s important to plan for Medicaid and/or long-term careBy Judy Malmon, J.D. | Last updated on January 19, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:a reputable estate planning attorney will help you assess your needs.
Medicaid EligibilityDon’t plan to rely on Medicare for LTC, as this program only covers acute needs and maxes out at 100 days. Medicaid, on the other hand, is a federally funded program that pays for long-term nursing home care, but only for those who can no longer care for themselves and who qualify based on income/assets. The rules are complicated, but generally, in Maryland, you may have no more than $2,024 per month income, and assets are capped at $2,500, other than a home (if your spouse is still living in it), plus a few other exceptions. It may be possible to be eligible with a slightly higher income level, as Maryland allows you to “spend down” excess income to qualify. If you take other recommended steps before you need LTC—such as the transfer of your assets to heirs via a gift, life estate or irrevocable trust—Medicaid takes this into account. When you apply, any transfers made within the last five years will be counted among your resources, and you won’t be eligible if what you gave away plus what you still have put you over the limit. You’ll be responsible for covering any amount of your care costs until you’ve “spent down” to the resource eligibility limit.
LTC InsuranceAnother option to consider in LTC planning is insurance. Depending on when you begin your planning, you may be able to secure an insurance policy that covers your future in-home or nursing home care costs at a fraction of the actual price, paying a monthly or annual premium. The best time to sign up for coverage is well before you think you’ll need it, ideally in your early-to-mid-50s. You’ll need to be assessed as medically eligible, a threshold you’re more apt to clear when younger.
Combining the TwoMany estate planning attorneys recommend a combination of Medicaid planning and LTC insurance for their clients as the best protection for their long-term care needs. It’s possible to secure an insurance policy to cover up to five years of care, allowing asset transfers to be made without fear of needing LTC before the end of the look-back period. After that, it could be determined if enough funds remain to continue the policy, or whether you would qualify for Medicaid. Planning for your care as you age can be both complex and emotionally difficult, but the right attorney can help protect your hard-earned resources, health care security, and peace of mind. For more information on this area, see our overview of elder law and estate planning.
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