Missouri Medicaid / MO HealthNet Income & Asset Limits for Nursing Homes & In-Home Long Term Care

Last updated: February 04, 2019

 

Missouri Medicaid Definition

Medicaid, which is called MO HealthNet in Missouri, is a wide-ranging, jointly funded state and federal health care program. Through MO HealthNet, many groups of low-income people, including pregnant women, families, and the blind, disabled, and elderly are able to receive medical and care assistance. That being said, this page is focused on Medicaid eligibility, specifically for senior Missouri residents who are 65 years of age and over, and specifically for long term care, whether that be at home, in a nursing home, or in assisted living.

  The American Council on Aging now offers a free, quick and easy Medicaid eligibility test for seniors.

 

Income & Asset Limits for Eligibility

There are several different Medicaid long-term care programs for which Missouri seniors may be eligible. These programs have slightly different eligibility requirements, as well as benefits. Further complicating eligibility are the facts that the criteria vary with marital status, and that Missouri offers multiple pathways towards eligibility.

1) Institutional / Nursing Home Medicaid – is an entitlement (anyone who is eligible will receive assistance) and is provided only in nursing homes.
2) Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services – Limited number of participants and is provided at home, adult day care or in assisted living.
3) Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled / MO HealthNet for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (MHABD) – is an entitlement (meeting the eligibility requirements ensures one will receive benefits) and is provided at home or adult day care.

The table below provides a quick reference to allow seniors to determine if they might be immediately eligible for long term care from a MO HealthNet program. Alternatively, one can take the Medicaid Eligibility Test.  IMPORTANT: Not meeting all of the criteria below does not mean one is ineligible or cannot become eligible for Medicaid in Missouri. More.

2019 Missouri Medicaid (MO HealthNet) Long Term Care Eligibility for Seniors
Type of Medicaid Single Married (both spouses applying) Married (one spouse applying)
Income Limit Asset Limit Level of Care Required Income Limit Asset Limit Level of Care Required Income Limit Asset Limit Level of Care Required
Institutional / Nursing Home Medicaid *All available income must be paid towards care. $3,000 Nursing Home All available income must be paid towards care. $6,000 Nursing Home All available income must be paid towards care. $3,000 for applicant & $126,420 for non-applicant Nursing Home
Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services $1,348 / month $3,000 Help w/ 2 Activities of Daily Living $2,696 / month $6,000 Help w/ 2 Activities of Daily Living $1,348 / month $3,000 for applicant & $126,420 for non-applicant Help w/ 2 Activities of Daily Living
Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled $885 / month $3,000 None $1,198/ month $6,000 None $885 / month $3,000 None
What Defines “Income”

For Medicaid eligibility purposes, any income that a Medicaid applicant receives is counted. To clarify, this income can come from any source. Examples include employment wages, alimony payments, pension payments, Social Security Disability Income, Social Security Income, IRA withdrawals, and stock dividends. However, when only one spouse of a married couple is applying for Medicaid, only the income of the applicant is counted. Said another way, the income of the non-applicant spouse is disregarded. (If you want to know more about how income is counted for Medicaid eligibility purposes, click here). There is also a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA), which is the minimum amount of monthly income to which the non-applicant spouse is entitled. As of July 2018, this equates to $2,058 / month (this figure is set to increase in July 2019). There is also a maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance for persons with high living costs, such as mortgage and utilities. As of January 2019, it is $3,161 / month (this figure will not increase again until January 2020). This spousal allowance rule allows nursing home and HCBS waiver Medicaid applicants to transfer income to the non-applicant spouse to ensure he or she has sufficient funds with which to live.

*As mentioned above, all available income must be paid towards the cost of nursing home care. However, there are a few exceptions. Program participants can keep $50 / month as a personal needs allowance, pay monthly premiums for medical insurance, and if they are married, transfer money to their spouses as a spousal allowance.

 

What Defines “Assets”

Countable assets include cash, stocks, bonds, investments, credit union, savings, and checking accounts, and real estate in which one does not reside. However, for Medicaid eligibility, there are many assets that are considered exempt (non-countable). Exemptions include personal belongings, household furnishings, an automobile, irrevocable burial trusts, and one’s primary home, given the Medicaid applicant or their spouse lives in the home and the home is valued under $585,000 (in 2019). For married couples, as of 2019, the community spouse (the non-applicant spouse) can retain up to a maximum of $126,420 of the couple’s joint assets, as the chart indicates above. This, in Medicaid speak, is referred to as the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA). The CSRA is specifically for non-applicant spouses of nursing home Medicaid or HCBS Medicaid waiver applicant spouses.

It’s important to be aware that Missouri has a 5-year Medicaid Look-Back Period. This is a period of time in which Medicaid checks to ensure no assets were sold or given away under fair market value in order to meet Medicaid’s asset limit. If one is found to be in violation of the look-back period, a period of Medicaid ineligibility will ensue.

 

Qualifying When Over the Limits

For Missouri elderly residents, 65 and over, who do not meet the eligibility requirements in the table above, there are other ways to qualify for Medicaid.

1) Medically Needy Pathway – In a nutshell, those who are aged, blind or disabled may still be eligible for Medicaid services even if they are over the Medicaid income limit if they have high medical bills. In Missouri, this program is called a Spend Down program, and the way this program works is one’s “excess income,” (their income over the Medicaid eligibility limit), is used to cover medical bills. Examples include prescription drugs, dental and eye care services, durable medical equipment, home nursing services, and hospital bills. If a Medicaid applicant is married, medical bills accrued by one’s spouse can also go towards meeting one’s spend down. (One’s spend down can be thought of as an insurance deductible). Missouri has a one-month “spend-down” period, so once an individual has paid their excess income down to the Medicaid eligibility limit for the period, one will qualify for the remainder of month.

2) Qualified Income Trusts (QIT’s) – QIT’s, also referred to as Miller Trusts, are for nursing home Medicaid and HCBS Medicaid Waiver applicants who are over the income limit, but still cannot afford to cover the cost of their long-term care. This type of trust offers a way for individuals over the Medicaid income limit to still qualify for long-term care Medicaid, as money deposited into a QIT does not count towards Medicaid’s income limit. In basic terms, one’s excess income (over the Medicaid limit) is directly deposited into a trust, in which a trustee is named, giving that individual legal control of the money. The money in the account can only be used for very specific purposes, such as contributing towards the cost of nursing home care, HCBS long term care, and medical expenses and items not covered by MOHealth Net, such as wheelchairs, accrued by the Medicaid enrollee. The trust must be irreversible, meaning once it has been established, it cannot be changed or canceled, and upon the death of the Medicaid participant, or in the event of Medicaid disenrollment, the remainder of the funds must be paid to the state of Missouri.

Unfortunately, the Medically Needy Pathway nor Qualified Income Trusts assist one in spending down extra assets for Medicaid qualification. Said another way, if one meets the income requirements for Medicaid eligibility, but not the asset requirement, the above options cannot assist one in “spending down” extra assets. However, one can “spend down” assets by spending excess assets on non-countable assets, such as home modifications (wheelchair ramps, stair lifts, and widening of doorways to allow wheelchair access), vehicle modifications (hand controls and pedal extenders), prepaying funeral and burial expenses, and paying off debt.

3) Medicaid Planning – the majority of persons considering Medicaid are “over-income” or “over-asset” or both, yet still cannot afford their cost of care.  For persons in this situation, Medicaid planning exists. By working with a Medicaid planning professional, families can employ a variety of strategies to help them become Medicaid eligible. Read more or connect with a Medicaid planner.

 

Specific Missouri Medicaid Programs

Missouri Medicaid / MO HealthNet will pay for nursing home care for those residents who require that level of care. In addition, MO HealthNet offers several programs that help Missouri residents who require the level of care provided in a nursing home, but wish to remain living at home. These programs and other types of community-based care from the state Medicaid program are detailed below.

1. Aged and Disabled Waiver (ADW) – Provides adult day care and meal services to help families who wish to care for a loved one at home. These supports are intended to enable persons to maintain full-time employment while caring for a loved one.

2. Supplemental Nursing Care (SNC) Assistance – This is a cash benefit intended to help persons in need to afford the cost of assisted living. It will not cover the full cost, but can be combined with other sources of income.

3. Home and Community Based Services – The services available under this program are similar to the Aged and Disabled Waiver. However, these services are under the state’s regular Medicaid program, and therefore, are entitlements. On the downside, the financial eligibility criteria are more restrictive.

4. Independent Living Waiver (ILW) – As implied by the name, this program helps beneficiaries to live independently by paying for personal care, medical equipment, and home modifications. Enrollment is limited.

5. Consumer Directed State Plan Personal Care – Under the MO regular Medicaid program, this program allows family members to be hired as personal care providers and paid by the state.

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