My colleague forwarded me this article on the rising cost of Long-Term Care in this country, and I thought the article explained well what many of my clients don’t necessarily understand – the question of who will pay for their long-term care, if they need it?
Most people already know that a skilled nursing facility – what many call a “nursing home” – is very expensive. Assisted living costs or other senior housing options also surprise most of my unsuspecting clients. Do you know how much? If you don’t, check this article out from dailyfinance.com (link below) which outlines the national average yearly costs for SNF. If you live in Minnesota, the current state-wide annual average sits roughly at $68,000 or so. It may please you to know that we, in Minnesota, are dramatically lower than some states.
But, WHO will pay for this if you need it? Some erroneously think that, if they’re over 65 years old, Medicare will.
Medicare does not cover long-term care costs. It covers many things, but not specifically long-term care. Therefore, if you don’t have your own funds to pay for your long-term care needs (or insurance funds to do so), you will likely require Medicaid, which does cover long-term care costs. (In Minnesota, it’s called Medical Assistance or MA, but it is funded by Medicaid, a Federal program). Medicaid, as you may already know, is not a benefit to which we are entitled when we turn 65. Rather, it is a program for those who are impoverished – (can’t afford it), and therefore, require the assistance of the government for their basic needs, which in this case, are very expensive intensive care in a specialized facility. In other words, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too – the care is what we are entitled to, not the monetary benefit of its cost. So, if you need this care and can’t afford it, someone else has to pay for it. This is why you are required to use your assets first before you use public funds.
This would explain, I hope, to many who have not quite understood the above, why it is difficult to “protect” your assets and/or income, and why if you require MA, your childrens’ inheritance or your spouse’s assets will likely be significantly affected. The entire reason for MA is to make sure that all people have access to this important, necessary, (and expensive) care – even people who cannot afford it. Therefore, there are necessary and sometimes painful “spend-down” requirements and strict protocols for that process that consistently confirm that the recipient is, in fact, someone who requires this financial assistance.
This is where an Elder Law Attorney can be of assistance. The rules of eligibility (both physical/medical and financial) can be complicated and overwhelming for some. Planning for a potential need for long-term care can include private funds, long-term care insurance funds, some combination of both, and MA funds. In all cases, planning for your long-term care needs can benefit from the advice of an attorney who specializes in this area. Single, married, divorced, remarried, with children, without children, wealthy, middle-income, or low-income – you can benefit from thinking through your potential long-term care needs and how you will pay for those needs.
Here’ s the article about long-term care costs.
Don’t stick your head in the sand! Talk with an Elder Law Attorney – understand your options and plan for your future so you can decide for yourself what is most important.This blog is written by Bridget-Michaele Reischl, Attorney DECORO LAW OFFICE, PLLC www.decorolaw.com