Most state Medicaid programs limit the amount of assets some individuals are allowed to maintain. As of 2011, the limit is typically $2,000 per person or $3,000 per couple, but the amount will vary depending on the state. While this amount may seem low, it does not include all assets. Certain assets are exempt.
Medicaid excludes the home from your asset total. The property must be your primary residence. If you are in a nursing home or hospital, you must intend to return home. The house exemption includes the home, land and any additional property such as garages and outbuildings on the property. The home can be a single-family house, condominium, apartment or mobile home. Cabins and vacation or summer homes cannot be kept. The Medicaid program will not take away your home. However, if neither you nor your spouse live in the home, the Medicaid program can require you to sell it. Some states place liens on property that belongs to the person who gets Medicaid assistance.
Each household member is allowed one motor vehicle. The vehicle can be either a car or trucks, as long as transportation is for medical or work-related travel. If a person is entering a nursing home, the vehicle can still be kept by a spouse or other family member. For additional vehicles, the equity value of each vehicle will be counted toward the resource limit.
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Generally, all personal items are exempt. Furniture, clothing, electronics and jewelry are examples of personal property not included in the Medicaid resource limit. When trying to spend-down assets, some homeowners choose to renovate their homes, upgrade appliances or purchase new furniture.
Life Insurance and Burial Expenses
Life insurance owned by you is also exempt, provided the face value does not exceed $1,500. The face value is the amount your beneficiaries will be paid upon your death. If you have a term life insurance policy, the entire amount is exempt because it doesn't have any cash value. Burial funds are also exceeded. However, the face value of the life insurance policy is subtracted from the $1,500 total exemption. For example, if you own a life insurance policy with a value of $1,000, an additional $500 in prepaid funeral expenses is allowed.