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Can Medicare Take My Home?

When considering the payment of long-term care costs, people will oftentimes worry that Medicare can take their home as repayment for such benefits. However, because Medicare does not generally cover long-term care stays (room and board) in a nursing home, or provide extensive coverage for home health care, it cannot take an enrollee’s home as repayment for such coverage.

A majority of individuals who enter nursing homes will begin paying for this type of care out-of-pocket. However, as they use their own resources, such as their bank accounts and personal investments over a period of time, they may eventually become eligible for another government program, Medicaid.

If an individual qualifies for Medicaid, they may be able to get help in paying for their nursing home care costs. But, not all nursing homes accept Medicaid as a form of payment. Therefore, it is a good idea to first check with the nursing home in order to determine whether or not it will accept this form of payment before moving forward.

Often, nursing home residents will not be eligible for Medicaid benefits until they have spent some – or most – of their personal resources on their medical care. You may have to pay out-of-pocket for the nursing home care each month, and the nursing home may bill Medicaid for the remainder of the amount. The amount that you owe will often depend on your income and your deductions.

While the actual qualifications for Medicaid can differ from state to state, generally the state cannot place a lien on your home if there is a reasonable chance that you will return home after receiving nursing home care, or if you have a spouse or dependents who live there.

This means that the state cannot take, sell, or hold your home in order to recover benefits that are paid for nursing home care while you are living in a nursing home in this situation. In most cases, however, once a person who has received Medicaid nursing home benefits has passed away, the state can try to get whatever benefits it paid for that person back from his or her estate.

However, the state cannot recover on a lien against the individual’s home if the home is the residence of the person’s spouse, brother or sister (who has an equity interest and was residing in the home at least one year prior to the nursing home admission), or a blind or disabled child or a child under the age of 21 in the family.

Because all situations are different, it is always a good idea to discuss your specific issue with your local Medicaid office and / or your local Area Agency on Aging in order to determine whether your state has any legal services where you may obtain any additional information. You may also wish to discuss your potential options with an attorney in your state who is familiar with how Medicaid works in your state of residence.

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