• The Basics of Medicaid: What You Can and Cannot Keep
  • March 14, 2012 | Author: Kim Boyer
  • Law Firm: Durham Jones & Pinegar, P.C. - Las Vegas Office
  • In order to understand Medicaid qualification, you first need to know how Medicaid treats your assets. Basically, Medicaid breaks your assets down into two separate categories. The first are those assets which are exempt and the second are those assets which are non-exempt or countable.

    Exempt assets are those which Medicaid will not take into account. Generally, the following assets are exempt:

    • The home, which must be the principal place of residence. The nursing home resident must indicate an "intent to return home," even if this never actually takes place. Equity in homes of nursing home residents exceeding $500,000 shall be countable unless the nursing home resident's spouse, child under age 21, or blind or disabled child is living in the residence.
    • Household and personal belongings, such as furniture, appliances, jewelry and clothing.
    • One vehicle.
    • Burial accounts of $1,500. Burial spaces and markers, and prepaid funeral plans meeting specific requirements.
    • Cash value of life insurance policies, as long as the face value of all policies added together does not exceed $1,500. If it does exceed $1,500 in total face amount, then the cash value in these policies is countable. Also, term life insurance is exempt.
    • Cash not to exceed $2,000.

    Keep in mind that Medicaid may come back and attempt to recover from the estate of a Medicaid recipient after the death of the recipient and the recipient's spouse. All other assets which are not exempt are countable. This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, IRAs, pensions, second cars and so on. While there are some exceptions to these rules for the most part, all money and property, as well as any item that can be valued and turned into cash is a countable asset, unless it is one of those listed earlier as exempt.

    Of course, there are things that can be done to protect assets beyond these levels, such as the at-home spouse petitioning the Court to increase the amount of assets he or she can keep.