Increasing Medicaid's Stagnant Asset Test For People Eligible For Medicare And Medicaid Will Help Vulnerable Seniors

Health Aff (Millwood). 2021 Dec;40(12):1943-1952. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2021.00841.


Low-income Medicare beneficiaries rely on Medicaid for supplemental coverage but must meet income and asset tests to qualify. We examined states' income and asset tests for full-benefit Medicaid during the period 2006-18 and examined how alternative asset tests would affect eligibility for community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries ages sixty-five and older. Most states have not updated the dollar limit of Medicaid's asset test since 1989, making the asset test increasingly restrictive in inflation-adjusted terms. We estimated that increasing Medicaid's asset limit by the Consumer Price Index, to Medicare Savings Program levels, or to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for couples would increase Medicaid eligibility by 1.7 percent, 4.4 percent, and 7.5 percent, respectively. Simplifying Medicaid's asset test to focus only on certain high-value assets would increase eligibility by 20.5 percent. Increasing asset limits would lessen restrictions on Medicaid eligibility that arise from stagnant asset tests, broadening eligibility for certain low-income Medicare beneficiaries and allowing them to retain higher, yet still modest, savings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Eligibility Determination
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Medicaid*
  • Medicare*
  • Poverty
  • United States