While Michigan Health Link is not strictly intended for the elderly, it is relevant to many aging Michiganders since many services and supports are intended to help delay / prevent nursing home placement. This is a managed care program for persons who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. In addition to the medical care benefits provided by Medicare, MI Health Link offers supports that help beneficiaries remain living at home rather than move to an institutional setting. For example, personal care assistance, adult day care, home modifications, and meal delivery are all supports that are non-medical. They help persons remain living independently, and are included benefits of this program.
Unfortunately, Health Link is not currently available statewide. However, it is available in 25 counties within the state. These include Wayne County, Macomb County, all of the counties in the Upper Peninsula, and some of the Southwest counties.
The Health Link program began in March 2015. It coordinates benefits of both Medicaid and Medicare to cover physical and behavioral health care, acute care, prescription drugs, dental, vision, long-term home and community based care assistance and supports, and nursing home care. The Health Link Program includes an MI Health Link Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver. This waiver is also referred to as the Expanded Community Living Supports (ECLS) Waiver. Please make note, the eligibility requirements for the HCBS waiver differ from the requirements for MI Health Link. (Please see the eligibility guidelines below).
MI Health Link program is a partnership between three entities: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and Integrated Care Organizations (ICOs). As of 2020, there are seven ICOs, which are also known as Michigan Health Link Plans. These include Aetna, AmeriHealth, Michigan Complete Health, HAP Midwest, Meridian, Molina, and the Upper Peninsula Health Plan.
In order to be eligible for the MI Health Link program, one must be a Michigan resident, a minimum of 21 years old, and be enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare. In order to receive services via this program, one cannot be receiving hospice services at the time of enrollment.
For the MI Health Link HCBS waiver, one must be enrolled in MI Health Link. However, if an individual meets a nursing facility level of care, one is also eligible for the waiver. Those enrolled in the waiver still have access to all of the services provided via the Health Link program.
As of 2020, in order to be eligible for Medicaid in Michigan, an elderly individual must not have monthly income in excess of $1,063, which is 100% of the Federal Poverty Level. In addition, a single applicant must not have assets over $2,000. Some assets, such as an individual’s primary home, are considered exempt. This is given the individual (or his or her spouse) lives in the home and the equity value is not over $595,000. Additional exempt assets include household furnishings, personal items, such as a wedding ring, and a vehicle.
Individuals who are enrolled in the Health Link HCBS waiver are permitted a higher income. In 2020, waiver participants are allowed income up to $2,349 / month. This figure is equivalent to 300% of the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). The asset limit remains the same as for the MI Health Link program at $2,000 for a single applicant. As long as program participants are enrolled in the waiver program, they continue to be Medicaid eligible.
Being over the income or asset limit does not automatically disqualify one from Medicaid. However, in instances such as these, consulting a professional Medicaid planner is highly advised. Learn more here.
In simplified terms, in order to be eligible for Medicare, one must be 65 years of age or under the age of 65 and be blind or disabled.
One must live in one of the following MI counties.
Care need assessments are completed in order to determine if one requires state plan personal care assistance via Health Link or more extensive services via the Expanded Community Living Supports (ECLS) Waiver. Make note, for one to be eligible for services under ECLS, one must require a nursing home level of care.
All benefits that are covered by Medicaid and Medicare Parts A, B, and D are covered by MI Health Link, and include the following supports and services. Make note, benefits may vary slightly based on one’s health care plan.
One must be enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare to be eligible for MI Health Link. If one is not enrolled in Medicaid, he or she should contact the local MDHHS County office. One can click here for a list of offices. For information about enrolling in Medicare, click here.
To learn more about the MI Health Link program, click here. In most cases, eligible applicants will receive a letter from Michigan ENROLLS instructing them how to enroll in this program. Often times, individuals are passively enrolled, as they don’t contact Michigan ENROLLS to opt out of the program within 60 days of receipt of the letter. However, individuals may also choose to actively enroll in the program and choose their health plan. Or they can opt out of the program completely. One can also call MI ENROLLS at 800-975-7630 to enroll in this program.