If you had to pay for long-term care in a nursing home, could you afford to?
In the past, much elder care was handled informally at home. However, as more and more women started to work outside the home, wives and daughters were not available to care for aging parents or in-laws in addition to all their other responsibilities to work and family. Also, as modern medicine has improved, people are living longer with chronic medical conditions. However, in the last years of their lives, many seniors may have complex medical issues and care needs that only can be met by professionals.
Whether people today are somewhat more open to the idea of nursing home care, or are just in denial as to their eventual need for it, a recent survey of Americans over 40 found that forty (40%) percent didn't think they would need long-term care, and the same percentage erroneously believed that Medicare will pay for it if they do. Sadly, these assumptions could have serious financial repercussions in the future for many Americans.
According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, seventy (70%) percent of those over age 65 are going to need assistance with their daily activities, which may include adult day care or long-term nursing home care. If accurate, then a significant number of people surveyed who believed they won't need long-term care could be mistaken. In addition, without proper legal planning, the eligibility requirements for Medicaid's long-term care benefits can be difficult to satisfy, even for seniors who only have modest estates.
Government programs can be confusing to the public and the complex nature of Medicare and Medicaid are no exceptions. Both government-sponsored programs provide health care benefits, but the benefits and eligibility requirements are different. Medicaid does cover long-term care, though only for those who meet the income and asset criteria. However, Medicare-- which is typically available to those 65 and older-- does not cover long term care.
The same survey indicated that approximately three-quarters of those surveyed felt either confident or somewhat confident that they could afford to pay for long-term care if they needed to, while approximately one-quarter had little or no confidence in their ability to pay for long-term care. Those in better general health or those with higher salaries and levels of education reported greater confidence. Of course, people in these categories may have long-term care insurance in place or substantial retirement savings--luxuries many Americans cannot afford.
With the costs of long-term nursing home care being in the range of over $8,282 per month, the sad reality is that your life savings could be lost very quickly, leaving you destitute and without assets to pass on to your loved ones. Fortunately, there may be a better option for your golden years.
An Elder Law attorney who specializes in Medicaid planning can review your financial situation and discuss your present and future needs and concerns with an eye toward strategic planning. Medicaid regulations are complex and involve look-back periods, transfer penalties, waiting periods, and income caps. With proper counsel, you may be able to avoid financial ruin and qualify for Medicaid so that your long-term care is covered.
Elder Law and Medicaid planning attorney Andrew Byers, Esq., serves clients in Auburn Hills, Michigan as well as clients throughout Oakland County and the metropolitan Detroit area. Look forward to your golden years with peace of mind. Call (248) 301-1511 today for a consultation.