New Study Finds That Few Nursing Home Residents Transferred Assets

Agreeing with earlier results, a study by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured finds that asset transfers by individuals entering nursing homes are relatively small.

The study found that 9.2 percent of Medicaid recipients entering a nursing home had transferred assets within two years of admission. The mean amount transferred was $5,380 and the median was $1,400. Researchers also discovered that 18.7 percent of Medicaid nursing home patients had transferred assets more than two years before they entered a facility. The mean amount transferred by this group was $8,202 and the median was $3,000.

The study also found that Medicaid nursing home residents had minimal assets before entering the nursing home. For example, half of unmarried residents had less than $4,000 of non-housing assets before entering nursing homes as Medicaid patients.

The study confirmed the findings of earlier studies on the impact of asset transfers. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study in October that reported the level of assets being transferred by the elderly were relatively insignificant. The Georgetown University Long-Term Care Financing Project reached a similar conclusion in May.

These studies indicate that changes to asset transfer rules proposed by the Medicaid Commission may not save much money. The commission, which was established to advise Congress on how to cut $10 billion from Medicaid, proposed rules that would extend the "lookback" period for all transfers from three to five years and change the start of the penalty period for transferred assets from the date of transfer to the date of Medicaid application. These changes in the law have been incorporated into the House version of the 2006 budget bill.

The Kaiser study on asset transfers is part of a group of studies on Medicaid released by the Kaiser Commission. Other studies look at the distribution of assets in the elderly population and strategies for keeping individuals out of nursing homes, among other topics. For a full list of all the reports, click here.

For the full study on asset transfers, click here.