Will Medicare pay for a nursing home for someone who has advanced Alzheimer's?


Q: My 81-year-old father is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and needs to be moved to a nursing home. Will Medicaid pay?

A: While Medicare will only cover at most 100 days in a nursing home, Medicaid has no such time limitation on coverage. Medicaid will cover all the nursing home and medical expenses of a senior needing nursing home care, if the senior meets both the income and asset limits of the Medicaid program.

These rules vary from state to state, but the general rule is that a single person may not have more than $2,000 in countable assets (major exclusions: the home, one car, personal property) or income in excess of the nursing home's costs. There are more complicated rules for married couples where one is living in the community and one is in the nursing home.

K. Gabriel Heiser is an attorney with over 25 years of experience in elder law and estate planning. He is the author of "How to Protect Your Family's Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs: Medicaid Secrets," an annually updated practical guide for the layperson.

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I've learned from caring for both my mom and my dad before they died that it's better to be dirt poor if a Nursing Home confinement is needed. They had saved all their lives but every penny went to Private Pay in a Nursing Home. On the other hand, a friend of mine put her mom in and paid nothing other than assigning her mom's social security check over to the home. (she had no savings)
I talked with an attorney who told me if I had transferred my parent's lifetime savings out of their name 5 years ago, their savings would have been protected/excluded from the asset provision of Medicaid eligibility.
Somehow it just doesn't seem fair to me that those who save all their lives get penalized while those who spend all their money and save nothing get rewarded.