Exempt Assets and Countable Assets

To qualify for Medicaid, you must pass some fairly strict tests on the amount of assets you can keep.

To understand how Medicaid works, we first need to review what are known as exempt and non-exempt (or countable) assets.

Exempt Assets

Exempt assets are those that Medicaid will not include in the asset total to determine eligibility. In Georgia, the following are the primary exempt assets:

  • Home Place: The applicant’s house and all adjoining land and all buildings on the property are excluded from resources if the equity value of the home is $572,000 or less.
  • Household Goods: Household items including furniture, decorations, art, and appliances are excluded.
  • Burial Exclusion: The applicant and his/her spouse can each have up to $10,000 designated for burial expenses. This can consist of a prepaid funeral contract with a funeral home or funds designated for burial in a bank account. The face value of life insurance is applied toward the burial exclusion amount first.
  • Burial Space Items: Burial plots for the applicant and immediate family are excluded as well as certain other items at the burial site. There is no dollar limit on the cost or value of the burial space items.
  • Life Estate Interests: The applicant’s life estate interests are excluded.
  • Automobiles: One automobile is excluded regardless of value and whether or not it is in use. Note that junked or recreational vehicles are counted as resources.
  • Personal Items: Personal items such as clothing and jewelry are excluded.
  • Retirement Funds: Retirement funds such as IRAs, 401(k)s, and pensions are excludable resources if they are being distributed in periodic payments that include a portion of principal. These payments are counted as income in the month received.
  • Nonmarketable Assets: Assets are excluded while the applicant is making a bona fide effort to sell the asset. A bona fide effort may be evidenced by an advertisement in the newspaper or a listing with a real estate agent. The property must be listed for no more than its current value, and the applicant must accept an offer if it is at least 2/3 of the current value.

Countable Assets

Basically, all money and property and any item that can be valued and turned into cash, is a countable asset unless it is one of those assets listed above as exempt. This includes the following:

  • 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.
  • Investments: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
  • Checking Accounts
  • Savings Accounts
  • Certificates of Deposit
  • Money Market Accounts


While the Medicaid rules themselves are complicated and tricky, for a single person it is safe to say that he or she will qualify for Medicaid so long as the total assets are either exempt and/or are less than $2,000 (the current limit in Georgia).