Planning For Long-Term Care
As medical technology advances and life spans increase, many Americans fear the financial strain that rising long-term care costs will have on their life savings. Proper planning and legal advice from an experienced elder law attorney at Akridge & Balch, P.C., in Auburn, Alabama, can help alleviate many of these fears.
We invite you to discuss the following common topics related to long-term care planning for yourself or your family members.
Long-Term Care Insurance
The cost of a nursing home stay will quickly exhaust most Americans’ retirement savings. Medicare, Medicaid and other funding sources may cover the costs of care for a limited time or in limited circumstances, but a large portion of the costs must be absorbed by the person requiring care. For that reason, many people rely on long-term care insurance, trusts and annuities, reverse mortgages and other options to defray the costs.
Some insurance companies now sell long-term care insurance. Customers can purchase these policies, intended to cover medical and nonmedical costs for those with a chronic illness or disability, for the expenses of in-home caregiving, assisted living care or nursing home care. Long-term care insurance, however, can be quite expensive, and eligibility and policy premiums are determined using your age and health history. Long-term care insurance, therefore, might only be beneficial when you have substantial assets that need protection. Other options such as trusts, annuities or reverse mortgages may be available if you have the assets to pay for them.
Medicare And Medicaid
For those without long-term care insurance or the means to pay privately for long-term care, state and federal assistance through Medicare or Medicaid may be available. Such assistance, however, is not without its drawbacks.
Medicare is a federal assistance program adopted in the 1960s to provide low-cost medical care to Americans who are over the age of 65 or disabled. But under Medicare Part A, a qualified individual may only receive up to 100 days of skilled nursing home care, and Medicare funding does not usually pay for personal caregivers. Therefore, the individual must obtain gap insurance coverage to pay for such care. A small percentage of America’s nursing home patients actually receive long-term care benefits through Medicare.
Medicaid, on the other hand, is a state-administered federal program designed to provide low-income individuals with long-term care and medical coverage. Applicants must meet strict asset and income tests to be eligible, or they must “spend down” assets to meet the standards. To determine Medicaid eligibility, each state will look back over a required period (usually between 36 and 60 months) prior to the applicant’s request for Medicaid assistance to ensure the applicant has met Medicaid asset transfer regulations. Generally, if an asset was transferred during that period, but not exchanged for fair market value, the transfer will trigger a period of ineligibility. Medicaid requirements are complicated, especially since each state construes the program differently.
Let’s Discuss Your Or Your Family Member’s Long-Term Care Needs
The biggest concern of many aging Americans can be finding the means to afford assisted living, nursing homes or in-home care. For those without the resources to privately pay for long-term care, careful advance planning with Akridge & Balch, P.C., in Auburn, Alabama, can help you meet your long-term care needs. To ensure that you will meet Medicaid’s strict eligibility requirements, consult with an elder law attorney before attempting to transfer assets to qualify for Medicaid. With proper forethought, you can be ready in case long-term care needs become critical.