With the rising costs of long term care, Medicaid is being looked to more and more to provide care in the later years of life. Nursing home Medicaid is a joint program between the Federal government and Georgia that provides coverage for nursing homes for those who have a medical need requiring such care. In addition to showing a need for nursing home level care, those seeking nursing home Medicaid must also meet income and asset tests. The income tests for nursing home Medicaid are covered in other sections of this website. This post is focused on the considerations involved in protecting the asset which constitutes the largest asset for many seniors, the house.
Under Medicaid rules, the value of the primary residence of the Medicaid applicant is excluded from counting towards qualification, up to a certain amount of equity. Therefore, a Medicaid applicant can be approved for Medicaid while still owning a residence. However, being approved for Medicaid to pay for the nursing home bill is not the end of the story. There is still the issue of avoiding the Medicaid claim against the house on the death of the Medicaid recipient. Medicaid’s claim against the estate of a recipient of Medicaid is for the amount that Medicaid paid for healthcare services for the Medicaid recipient. If the amount Medicaid spent on healthcare services is greater than the value of the estate of the Medicaid recipient, Medicaid can take the entire estate.
An experienced elder law attorney can assist in savings the house and other assets from a Medicaid payback. There are many complex strategies that can be used to save assets. The investment of hiring an attorney can show significant dividends in protection of assets that can be left to family.