When it's time to apply for Medicaid coverage when you need long term nursing home care, the application can feel overwhelming. Medicaid is insurance that will pay for nursing home care, but it is based on assets and income. If you have a substantial bank account, or assets that can be liquidated, the Medicaid program will deny your application until you no longer have the ability to pay for your own long term care.
Assets that are Exempt
Certain assets can be exempt, like a home, if you have a spouse who is living in the home. If your home is valued at less than $500,000, it isn't counted as an asset. You can have up to $2,000 cash in the bank that isn't counted. One car that you own isn't counted towards assets for your application, and any pre-paid funeral trust that you have set up doesn't count either. Any term life insurance policies that you own are not counted. Many people plan for the eventual need of nursing home care, such as with Senior Solutions of Long Island, Inc., by protecting their assets, or giving them away prior to applying for Medicaid.
The Five Year Look Back Period
At this time Medicaid has a five year look back period, during which you are not allowed to simply give away your assets to avoid paying for nursing home costs. Any assets given away more than five years before your application will not be counted as assets for the purpose of your Medicaid application. If you don't have a spouse, your home can be gifted to one of your children who is less than 21 or disabled, without penalty. If you have a child that has been living in the home for two years or more, the home can be gifted to them without the asset counting towards your assets.
With the rising costs of nursing home care, it's important to be prepared for your future. Some people choose to buy long term care insurance, while others set up a trust that will hold all of their assets if they need to go into a nursing home. At any given time, roughly 63% of the residents in a nursing home are using Medicaid as the primary payment source. Those not on Medicaid have either substantial assets, or are newly in the nursing home and spending down any assets that they had before applying for the program to cover nursing home costs.