Long-term nursing home care is a common elder law issue because it is typically not covered by traditional health insurance. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, nursing home care can cost as much as $150,000 a year. The average stay is slightly over three years. Most people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted, at which point they may qualify for Medi-Cal assistance.
Careful planning, however, can help protect your assets, whether for your spouse or for your children. A common approach is to purchase long-term care insurance while you are healthy enough to qualify, and to make sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled under Medicare and Medi-Cal, or perhaps Veteran’s Benefits.
Clients are often confused over the differences between Medicare and Medi-Cal. Though their names are very similar, the programs are quite different. Medicare is an entitlement program, a federal health insurance program in which most people enroll when they turn 65 years old. There are no financial qualification rules. Medicare has two primary parts: Part A and Part B.
Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care, extended care after a hospital stay, some home health care services, and hospice services. Generally, Medicare does not pay for long-term nursing home care.
Medi-Cal is a joint federal-state program, subject to certain federal requirements. Medi-Cal is not an entitlement program like Medicare, but rather a means-tested benefit. Medi-Cal eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state.
Senior Housing Options
The death of a spouse, declining health or safety concerns can trigger the need to move to senior housing. With the realization that the family home is no longer suitable, the need for change becomes a priority. Finding a new home that is both appealing and suitable can be an overwhelming task.
Here are some tips to help make the transition easier:
- Plan ahead instead of waiting for a health crisis to start the process. The smoothest transitions occur when the person moving can participate.
- Fully assess the current situation. Physical care needs and financial resources are the place to start. Consider the costs of staying in place, including renovation and ongoing maintenance. Add the cost of rising utility bills and taxes, and don’t forget transportation and food. Make a list and decide whether it’s cheaper to stay or move to a community designed for senior living.
- Consider taking a multi-phase approach. Seniors often take longer than a year to actually make the move.
- Explore new housing options. Senior living offers greater options than ever before.
We assist seniors and their families in making the tough decisions regarding long-term care planning and have the focus to protect your finances associated with the high cost of long-term care. Contact our office today for assistance with the planning and application process