Financial Answer Center
Generally, Medicaid pays most of the total cost of nursing home care in this country, but will you be eligible?
Medicaid is a federally sponsored program whose participation limits are set by the state in which you reside. It is for those people who have minimal assets and very little income. To be eligible, you basically have to "spend down" your assets to meet the state's eligibility criteria. Legislation has made it increasingly difficult to transfer or gift your assets, either directly or through a trust, and be eligible for Medicaid without waiting a significant amount of time. Basically, Medicaid has a 36-month look-back period (60 months for transfers to certain irrevocable trusts) in which to apply specific gifts or transfers to a formula that may postpone your eligibility should you meet the eligibility requirements.
The bottom line is, you'll pay a big price if you're counting solely on Medicaid to pay your nursing home bills someday. You'll virtually have to leave yourself with little or nothing in the bank or divest yourself from possession and control of your assets years before entering a nursing home. Some states also have income limits.
For more information on Medicaid rules in your state, contact your local Office on Aging or an attorney who specializes in elder law.