Single Elders Who Will Soon Need MassHealth Nursing Home: Act Fast to Set Aside a Cushion

December 4, 2009

Filed under: Medicaid (MassHealth) — Tags: — Alexis @ 9:38 AM

To qualify for MassHealth to pay for nursing home care, a single elder can have only $2,000 in his name. A big problem with allowing such a small reserve fund is that MassHealth doesn’t cover many needed services and medical items – like hearing aids, routine dental care, and eye glasses – and the elder is left with no way to pay for those items himself.

For anyone who will need MassHealth to pay for nursing home care, it is usually a good idea to try to set aside some funds to serve as a cushion to provide those necessary items that MassHealth won’t cover. For single elders,  the way to set aside a reserve fund is usually to deposit some amount of money with a “pooled trust.” A pooled trust is a trust fund, operated by a nonprofit organization, that pools together the deposits of its many elder and disabled members in order to streamline costs and maximize interest earned. The staff at the pooled trust keeps a separate running balance of each individual’s deposits. We have four pooled trusts in Massachusetts.

Until now, MassHealth has allowed elders to set aside some funds in a pooled trust to serve as a cushion for those uncovered “extras” that will inevitably be needed during a nursing home stay. MassHealth has permitted this transfer without imposing the usual transfer penalty.

But we just learned that this month, MassHealth plans to close this door and will no longer allow elders to set aside reserve funds in this manner. Therefore, if you are an elder or are caring for an elder who you think will need MassHealth nursing home care soon – whether that be in the next few months or the next year – you should speak with an elder law attorney this week about setting up a pooled trust account. In order to preserve a cushion to sustain a person through a nursing home stay, all of the paperwork for enrolling in the pooled trust must be completed before MassHealth changes the regulation, and they intend to make the change some time this month.

If someone you love will need MassHealth to pay for nursing home care soon, and they would like to set aside a reserve fund to pay for those items and services that MassHealth doesn’t cover, then you need to speak with an elder law attorney now. Time is of the essence.