Will owning a home affect whether Medicaid will accept my parents?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Judibow asked...

My mother and father are both in a skilled nursing facility. I am applying for Medicaid for them both. At the present time, Mother has Alzheimers and must have skilled nursing. Dad is in the early stages of Alzheimers and is in a skilled nursing facility because of a fall. he also cannot live alone. He needs skilled nursing also. They own a home. How will this play into whether they are accepted for Medicaid?

Expert Answers

There are two different parts of Medicaid that your patents might be eligible for, and your parents' home is considered differently by each part of the Medicaid program. First, let's look at the Medicaid medical coverage program, which would apply to each of your parent's short-term stay in SKILLED nursing care. To qualify for Medicaid medical coverage, your parents must have very low income and few assets (about $3,000 in cash or equivalent assets for both of them). But when the Medicaid medical program ) considers your parents' assets, it does NOT count the value of their home (or a car and some other personal possessions). So, if their other assets are low enough for them to qualify for Medicaid medical coverage, owning their home will not affect that eligibility, and Medicaid can cover the full cost (with perhaps very small copayments) of their stay in skilled nursing care.

Be aware, however, that a stay in skilled nursing care is limited, and at some point if either of your parents needs long-term nursing home care, he or she will be moved to what's called a custodial care nursing facility (or to the custodial care wing of the facility they're already in). At that point, a different part of Medicaid coverage might kick in.

If either of your parents winds up needing long-term custodial nursing home care, Medicaid can cover that, too. And owning their home would not be counted as an asset in determining either parent's eligibility for this long-term nursing home care Medicaid coverage. The difference with this kind of long-term nursing home Medicaid coverage, though, is that Medicaid will eventually seek reimbursement from your parents' estate -- meaning from the value of the home -- once both of your parents have passed away. As long as either of your parents is living, Medicaid will not touch the house. But once they are both gone, Medicaid can file a lien against your parents' estate for the full value of everything Medicaid has spent for nursing home care for both (after they reached age 55). So, owning the home won't affect their Medicaid eligibility, but acceptance of Medicaid coverage by your parents will ultimately mean that you (and any other heirs) will have to repay Medicaid out of the value of the house before the value of the estate is distributed to you.