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Idaho Medicare assistance program options

Learn about Idaho's eligibility guidelines for Medicare Savings Programs, Medicaid for the Aged, Blind and Disabled (ABD), and long-term care benefits

March 8, 2023

As a Medicare beneficiary, where you live – meaning your state of residence – can have a significant impact on the care that you receive and how you pay for that care during your “golden years.” This page explains how Idaho’s regulations and policies are likely to affect your bottom line.

How does Idaho determine eligibility for Medicare Savings Programs?

Many Medicare beneficiaries who struggle to afford the cost of Medicare coverage are eligible for help through a Medicare Savings Program (MSP). In Idaho, this program pays for Medicare Part B premiums, Medicare Part A and B cost-sharing, and – in some cases – Part A premiums.

Asset limits: Idaho uses the federal asset limits for QMB, SLMB and QI – which are $9,090 if single and $13,630 if married.

Who’s eligible for Medicaid for the aged, blind and disabled in Idaho?

Medicare covers a great number of services – including hospitalization, physician services, and prescription drugs – but Original Medicare doesn’t cover important services like vision and dental benefits. Medicare can also leave its beneficiaries with large out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance). Applicants can receive coverage for Medicare cost sharing and other Medicaid-covered services if they’re enrolled in Medicaid for the aged, blind and disabled (ABD).

Idaho’s Medicaid ABD program covers comprehensive dental care for adults. However, Idaho Medicaid does not pay for routine vision care. Medicaid ABD does cover services necessary to monitor and treat health conditions that can damage the eye (e.g., such as diabetes).

Medicaid ABD is called Aid for the Aged, Blind and Disabled in Idaho.

Income eligibility: The income limit is $967 a month if single and $1,391 a month if married.

Asset limits: The asset limit is $2,000 if single and $3,000 if married.

Or call 866-445-0071 (TTY 771) to speak to a licensed insurance agent.
(Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Sat 10am-7pm ET)

Federal assistance with prescription drug costs in Idaho

Medicare beneficiaries who also have Medicaid, an MSP, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will receive Extra Help. This program lowers Medicare Part D prescription drug costs. When beneficiaries apply for this program themselves, the income limit is $1,843 a month for singles and $2,485 a month for couples. The asset limit is $16,660 for individuals and $33,240 for spouses.

How does Idaho regulate long-term services and supports (LTSS)?

Medicare beneficiaries increasingly rely on long-term services and supports (LTSS) – or long-term care – which is mostly not covered by Medicare. In fact, 20% of Medicare beneficiaries who lived at home received some assistance with LTSS in 2015, and even more enrollees are expected to need these services as the population ages. Medicaid fills the gap in Medicare coverage for long-term care, but its complex eligibility rules can make qualifying for benefits difficult. What’s more – eligibility rules vary significantly from state to state.

Idaho uses a “special income limit” to determine eligibility for Medicaid nursing home benefits and Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). This limit is 300% of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment amount.

Medicaid nursing home coverage

Income limits: The income limit is $2,762 a month if single and $5,504 a month if married (and both spouses are applying).

When only one spouse needs Medicaid, the applicant for single applicants is used – and often only the applying spouse’s income is counted.

Although the income limit is $2,762 a month (if single), nursing home enrollees can’t keep all of their income up to this limit. Instead, they have to pay all but a small portion of it toward their care, although they can keep a small personal needs allowance (of $40 each month) and money to pay for health insurance premiums (such as Medicare Part B and Medigap).

Assets limits: The asset limit is $2,000 if single and $3,000 if married (and both spouses are applying).

Spousal impoverishment rules allow spouses who don’t have Medicaid to keep up to $148,620.

Certain assets are never counted, including many household effects, family heirlooms, certain prepaid burial arrangements, and one car.

Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers

Every state’s Medicaid program covers community-based long-term care services. Medicaid programs can offer these services called Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers, and can offer this care in an enrollee’s home, adult day care center or another community setting. Enrollees don’t have to enter a nursing home to receive these services.

HCBS waiver programs in Idaho include the:

  • Aging and Disabled (A&D) Waiver1
  • Developmentally Disabled (DD) Waiver2

Some HCBS waiver programs in Idaho have waiting lists. New applicants aren’t allowed once the enrollment cap is reached.

Income limits: The income limit is $2,762 a month if single and $5,504 a month if married (and both spouses are applying).

Asset limits: The asset limit is $2,000 if single and $3,000 if married (and both spouses are applying). Spousal impoverishment rules allow spouses who aren’t applying to keep up to $148,620.

Qualifying for Medicaid LTSS with income above the eligibility limit in Idaho

In Idaho, applicants normally are only eligible for nursing home care or HCBS if their income is less than $2762 a month (if single). However, an applicant who has a higher income can qualify for long-term care benefits by depositing income into a Qualified Income Trust, which is also called a “Miller Trust.”

Nursing home enrollees must pay nearly all of this income toward their care from the Miller Trust. However, HCBS recipients can keep a personal needs allowance to pay for certain health and living expenses.

Spousal impoverishment protections in Idaho

Eligibility rules for Medicaid LTSS programs differ from other Medicaid benefits when only one spouse is applying. When this occurs, only the applying spouse’s income is counted. With other Medicaid benefits, income received by both spouses is counted – regardless of who is applying.

Spousal impoverishment rules allow spouses of Medicaid LTSS recipients to keep a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) from their Medicaid spouse’s monthly income.

In Idaho in 2022, these spousal impoverishment rules allow community spouses to keep:

Permitted home value in Idaho

Federal law requires states to restrict eligibility for nursing home Medicaid and HCBS to applicants with a home equity interest below a certain dollar amount. States set these home equity levels based on a federal minimum of $688,000 and maximum of $1,033,000 in 2023.

In Idaho, applicants for Medicaid nursing home benefits or HCBS can’t have a home equity interest greater than $750,000.

Penalties for transferring assets in Idaho

Because long-term care is expensive, individuals can have an incentive to give away or transfer assets to others so they can become eligible for Medicaid LTSS benefits. To curb this incentive, federal law requires states to have a penalty period for Medicaid LTSS applicants who give away or transfer assets for less than their value. States can also have an asset transfer penalty for HCBS. Medicaid will not pay for LTSS during this penalty period.

Idaho has chosen to have an asset transfer penalty for nursing home care and HCBS. This penalty is based on a 5-year lookback period during which time asset transfers and gifts are prohibited. The penalty is calculated by dividing the value of what was transferred or given away during the lookback by the cost of private pay nursing home care (and this was $9,943.51 per month in 2023).

Estate recovery in Idaho

State Medicaid agencies have to attempt to recover what they paid for long-term care related benefits enrollees receive while 55 or older. The law also allows states to recover the cost of all other Medicaid benefits. This is called estate recovery.

Idaho has chosen to only pursue estate recovery against enrollees who receive long-term care beginning at age 55. (The state also recovers from a small number of younger enrollees who were permanently institutionalized.)

The state will not recover from enrollees who are survived by their spouse or a child who is under 21, blind, or disabled.

Idaho has an unusually aggressive estate recovery program. Estate recovery rules in every state allow costs to be recovered from recipients of Medicaid services, but Idaho also allows estate recoveries from spouses of Medicaid enrollees – even if the spouse didn’t receive Medicaid.

Where can Medicare beneficiaries get help in Idaho?

State Health Insurance Benefit Advisors (SHIBA)

You can receive free Medicare counseling through Idaho’s State Health Insurance Benefit Advisors (SHIBA) program by calling 800-247-4422. SHIBA is Idaho’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

SHIPs can help beneficiaries enroll in Medicare, compare and change Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, and answer questions about state Medigap protections. SHIP counselors may also be able to offer referrals to local agencies for services like home care and long-term care. This website has more information about the services offered by SHIBA.

Elder Law Attorneys

Elder law attorneys can help individuals plan for Medicaid long-term care benefits. You can use the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) to search for an elder attorney in your area.

Area Agencies on Aging / Aging and Disability Resource Centers in Idaho

You can also receive counseling and assistance about services that help with aging or living with a disability by contacting one of Idaho’s Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). You can call 800-926-2588 to be connected with an ADRC in Idaho or read more about Idaho ADRC services on this website.

Where can I apply for Medicaid in Idaho?

Medicaid is administered by the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) in Idaho. You can use this website to apply for Medicaid ABD or an MSP in Idaho. The customer service phone number for Medicaid is 877-456-1233.

  1. ID Aged and Disabled Waiver (1076.R07.00)” Accessed May 14, 2024 
  2. ID Adult Developmental Disabilities Waiver (0076.R07.00)” Accessed May 14, 2024 
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