It is true that Medicaid is intended to be health insurance for the very poor. It is also true that Medicaid has become the default long-term care insurance payer for millions of middle class families. In the Metro Atlanta area, nursing home costs can run $10,000/month. With such high costs, it is no wonder that many middle class families turn to our safety net program for help pay for nursing home costs. So, how poor do you have to be in order to qualify for Medicaid? Do you truly have to spend every last dime?
Understanding Countable Assets for Georgia Medicaid
To be eligible for nursing home Medicaid, the nursing home resident must have less than $2,000 in countable assets in their name. In Georgia, the following are the countable assets:
- Life Insurance Policies: The cash value of whole life or other life insurance policies is counted as a resource if the burial exclusion maximum has been reached with other assets.
- Bank and Investment Accounts: Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts, Certificates of Deposit, Money Market Accounts and Brokerage Accounts; Annuities that are not Medicaid Qualified Annuities.
- Other Assets: Non-home place Property and Land, Vehicles in addition to the one exempt Vehicle, titled Recreational Vehicles, Timeshares and Investment Properties.
To learn more about countable and exempt assets, click here.
Understanding the Community Resource Allowance
If the nursing home resident has a spouse, though, the spouse (assuming he/she is also not a nursing home resident) is allowed to keep $123,600 in assets. This is known as the Community Resource Allowance, and Georgia offers its residents the Maximum Resource Standard allowed by the federal government. In 1988, Congress enacted provisions to prevent what has come to be called “spousal impoverishment,” to help ensure that the community spouses are not left destitute after paying for their spouse’s care. Not all states are as generous to community spouses as Georgia has been to its residents. You can read about Tennessee’s laws here.
What About the Look Back Period?
Given our current laws in Georgia, a nursing home resident and his/her spouse can have up to $125,600 in countable assets—but only $2,000 of those assets can be in the nursing home resident’s name. So, in many situations, the nursing home resident will transfer all of his/her assets to his/her spouse. Georgia does have a 60-month look back period, but transfers made between spouses are allowable transfers. To read more about transfers, please click here.
Countable assets totaling more than $125,600 may result in the denial of a Medicaid application or loss of Medicaid eligibility for Medicaid recipients. This is where Medicaid planning can be helpful. The Certified Elder Law Attorneys at Hurley Elder Care Law work with families to reach Medicaid eligibility without overspending on long-term care costs. If you are interested in how we might be able to serve you and your family, please call us for a complimentary phone consultation at (404) 843-0121.