Important Facts about Paying for Long-Term Care

Important Facts about Paying for Long-Term Care Image

While only three percent of seniors live in a nursing home, about 70% of people turning 65 years old will need some type of long-term care as they age. That can range from several weeks of rehab in a skilled-care facility after surgery to actually living in the nursing home for the rest of your life. With that said, there is confusion about what long-term care is and how to prepare to access care when you need it.

Here are some common misunderstandings about long-term care.  

  • Medicare will take care of me at home or in a nursing home.

Broadly speaking, this is not true. Medicaid is the only federal benefits program required to pay for nursing home care, but only people with limited income qualify for Medicaid benefits – we can help you qualify and keep your assets.

  • No matter how sick I am, it will be less expensive to stay at home, pay for a nurse or skilled care and rely on loved ones to fill in the gaps.

If you are seriously ill, paying for care at home may cost more than paying for care in a nursing home. If you only need moderate care at home, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid care at home.

Depending on loved ones to care for you has some drawbacks, especially for your loved ones. It is not uncommon for a husband trying to care for a wife (or vice versa) to exhaust themselves so they also become sick. And, a child who is trying to help a parent can become overwhelmed, miss work and suffer financial hardships.

If you want to stay in your home, you should consider all of these issues in addition to actual medical bills. You will also need to be prepared to monitor caregivers who come into your home for elder abuse. While most paid caregivers are honest people, there are cases where paid caregivers steal from the home or exert undue influence over the patient.

• I’ll never get sick but if I do, my family can take care of me

As a follow up to the points made above, family members may not have the skills necessary to take care of the medical issues you are facing.

• Medicaid patients in nursing homes receive less attention and worse care then patients who pay with insurance or private funds; nursing homes that take Medicaid are not as good as other nursing homes.

Neither of these statements are true. What is true, is that you should visit several nursing homes before you decide where to live and you should ask friends and trusted advisors for recommendations. It’s important to find a good fit – space that you like, activities you will enjoy and staff you trust. In addition, you should work with a qualified elder law attorney to qualify for Medicaid benefits as soon as you decide to move into a nursing home in order to preserve as much of your savings as possible. Better yet, talk with an elder law attorney before you become ill to protect even more of your hard-earned retirement savings.

• The long-term care insurance I have will take care of everything

If you have long-term care insurance, that’s great. But, policies often have caps on daily benefits, maximum payouts and an elimination period – essentially limits on what they pay for and how much will be paid out. Your insurance may help, but it may not cover everything.

Part of our estate planning process is to prepare you for a time when you may need skilled care at home or in a nursing home. When you plan ahead you can protect your assets, qualify for Medicaid, add some comforts the care Medicaid provides and pass along an estate to your loved ones. Give us a call today to get started.