Sean W. Scott, Esq. Elder Law Attorney
The unfortunate reality—nursing home care can easily cost $12,000 a month. You read that right, $12,000 a month. Many people wrongly believe Medicare will take care of the cost of a nursing home; however, Medicare only pays for the first 100 days. Medicare, the health care system seniors rely on to pay medical bills, fails them when it comes to nursing homes.
The cost of nursing home care is well beyond all but the richest in our country. Everyone who makes less than $12,000 a month is faced with using up their life savings to pay the cost of care. At that spending rate, an entire life savings can be wiped out in a matter of months. The math is simple—take what you have saved and divide it by 12,000. The resulting answer is a good estimate of how many months until you get to $0.00.
There are those who say it is your own fault for not having long term care insurance in place to protect you. This is a false argument. Recent changes to insurance company underwriting standards have made it almost impossible for an older person to qualify for coverage. Let’s face it, getting older means getting sicker. Sicker means you are more likely to need care. That is a risk insurance companies are not willing to take. If they are willing to take it, premiums are so high as to be unaffordable. Private insurance is simply not the answer. But then where will the money come from to pay for care?
Medicaid is the answer.
I have been helping seniors and their families plan for their future for 27 years. In that time I have qualified more than ten thousand clients for Medicaid benefits to pay the costs of care in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and care in their own homes, all while protecting their assets.
When faced with the situation of caring for a loved one who needs more care than can be provided by family members alone, the nursing home or assisted living facility becomes the only choice.
Qualifying for Medicaid is a daunting task, but paying for care until all your assets are gone, at which point you may qualify for Medicaid benefits, is clearly not a good solution to the problem. There are options you can implement to preserve assets and qualify for benefits.
I equate these options to walking through a maze. There are many obstacles in the way to eligibility. If you are not careful you can become lost in the maze and never find your way out. Our role is to guide clients through this maze in the most efficient manner to obtain the goal of Medicaid eligibility.
When to plan.
Often the most challenging question for clients is not how to solve the problem of paying for long term care, but when to begin to plan. The majority of clients fall into one of three categories regarding Medicaid planning: The planner client, the writing on the wall client, and the emergency client. Which one are you?
The planner client takes great solace and peace of mind with having all the details worked out well in advance. The writing on the wall client has had some indication that a problem looms ahead—a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s, for example. Steps should be taken at this time to address the future need and payment for care. The emergency client is the one who comes upon the realization a loved one is now in the nursing home but he or she doesn’t know how to pay for it. The good news is that even if you have waited to plan until time of nursing home placement, it is still not too late to preserve the person’s assets and obtain Medicaid benefits to help pay the cost of care.
The key here is to know what to do and when to do it. This is an area where the experience of a qualified elder law attorney can be invaluable. Having practiced Elder Law in Florida for more than 27 years, we are well aware of the crisis people find themselves in when long-term care shows up in their life. It seems to come out of nowhere, this freight train of trauma that can blind-side the unprepared. For example, after 50 years of marriage, a wife watches as her husband deteriorates into near-total dependence. Her goal is to keep him at home as long as possible, but she has her own limits, whether admitted to or not. Or a loving daughter attempts to be a caregiver for her parents while juggling her own family and work commitments. She watches as her work and family life suffer but knows she must deal with the core human issue of her parents’ needs in their final years.
In order to succeed in achieving the highest level of care and the highest quality of life, you must become educated in how the Medicaid system works. It takes elder law attorneys years to understand how to counsel their clients and guide them through the long-term care maze. Do not make the mistake of thinking you can do this alone.
Visit our website at FLMedicaid.com for more information that can save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.