Medicare Set-Aside in OhioSettlement of a Workers’ Compensation claim may require establishment of a Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) where a workers’ comp claim is settled but there is a need for future medical treatment. Essentially, the concept here is that Medicare is a secondary payer if a primary payer exists.

For work injuries, workers’ compensation is the primary payer of medical treatment. If the workers’ compensation claim is settled, Medicare doesn’t want to be stuck paying for treatment that otherwise would have been covered under the claim.

Since most workers’ compensation claim settlements result in closure of the entire claim (an exception to this is an “indemnity-only settlement”), medical treatment for work related injuries is no longer paid by workers’ compensation.

An MSA essentially is an interest-bearing checking account, separate from personal checking or savings accounts, that is funded by a portion of the workers’ compensation settlement proceeds. The money in this account is used to pay for future medical expenses that otherwise would have been paid under the workers’ compensation claim.

Just how much of the settlement money has to be put into the MSA is determined by estimating the cost of future treatment by evaluating the cost of and need for past treatment. Such determinations can be complicated and often require evaluations by specialized companies whose sole purpose is to prepare a proposal that may be submitted for approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The MSA proposal must be approved by CMS, a process that typically takes many months. Once the approved MSA is appropriately spent, Medicare will provide further treatment.

CMS approval should be obtained when:

  1. The claimant is CURRENTLY Medicare eligible and the total settlement is greater than $25,000; or
  2. The claimant is REASONABLY EXPECTED to be Medicare eligible within 30 months of the settlement date and the settlement is $250,000 or over.

For settlements not falling into either category, explicit CMS approval isn’t required. However, Medicare’s interests still must be considered when settling any workers’ compensation claim.

There is not any cut off where one need NOT consider Medicare’s interests.

James Monast
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Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio
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Paul Sighinolfi 12/28/2020 03:32 PM
I am an attorney and former state executive director. I now work for a company that does the professional management of MSAs. My role is primarily education focused. I am discussing what we do with Ohio state regulators and in an effort to educate myself on how Ohio works I have been visiting various websites. I just read your comment on MSAs. I have two recommendations. the first is MSAs do not need to be approved by CMS although that is the best practice. The second is the approval turn around time has been greatly improved in recent years. In most cases the review and approval time is now about 10-14 days. I hope this helps you and your clients.
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Jim Monast 01/05/2021 04:06 PM
Hi Paul, thanks for visiting the blog and for commenting on the shorter time-frame for MSA approvals. You are correct about MSAs not needing to be approved by CMS but it is best practice. Employers almost never finalize settlement approval before CMS approval. So, while federal law doesn’t require it, it’s de facto required by employers.
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Kelly 02/08/2022 09:02 AM
From what I've been told medicare does not pay for preexisting conditions so why would I need to set up an set up an MSA account with medicare?
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Jim Monast 10/07/2022 04:13 PM
Hi Kelly, thank you for your question regarding an MSA account with Medicare. Your preexisting conditions will not prevent you from getting Medicare but could limit your ability to get a Medigap policy.
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