Medicaid in Ohio in the last couple of years has undergone massive changes. Most significantly, the look-back period in determining available resources has been expanded from three years to five years. This means that if property is transferred to certain non-exempt individuals within five years of both applying for medicaid and entering a long-term care facility, the property transferred is used to calculate the period of ineligibility for medicaid. Transfers to spouses and other qualified individuals are not improper, and may generally be made without triggering a penalty period of ineligibility for medicaid benefits (though care should be taken).
The changes in the law also make the penalty period more severe by starting the period of ineligibility at the time the individual would have otherwise qualified for medicaid, not at the time when the improper transfer was made. This means that many individuals could find themselves ineligible for medicaid and without available resources of their own to pay for healthcare costs. These changes in the law make it even more important to prepare in advance for qualifying for medicaid by transferring property more than five years prior to any need to qualify for medicaid. Other methods, such as establishing a special needs trust, or purchasing a single premium life-insurance policy, may be viable alternatives if you must qualify for medicaid in less than five years. As always, you should consult with a qualified estate planning attorney before making any decisions regarding medicaid.