How to pay for the long term care of elderly loved ones
Are you the caregiver of an elderly loved one? If so, there are important realities that you should know about long-term care. Long-term care is more expensive than most people think. It is often a topic that is avoided and never discussed. Most people are in denial. It just sort of creeps up; then one day it hits you like a ton of bricks. Did you know that the cost of care is usually paid for out of pocket and via ones savings, the sale of their home and income?
This is part of a continuing series of articles and tips into elder care and how to address topics such as downsizing, estate sale, content removal, home clean-out, property sale, moving and other real estate transition insights by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers (www.personalpropertymanagers.com). Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Did you know that about 70 percent of people turning 65 can expect to need some kind of long-term care as they age? A number of public programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, may help pay for some long-term care services under certain circumstances. However, each program has specific rules about what services are covered, how long you can receive benefits, whether or not you qualify for benefits, and how much you have to pay in out-of-pocket costs. The process can be overwhelming, because it is often combined during a stressful and emotional time.
MEDICARE FOCUSES ON ACUTE CARE COSTS
Do not be fooled into thinking that Medicare will take care of everything. Medicare covers medically necessary care and focuses on medical acute care, such as doctor visits, drugs and hospital stays. If very specific conditions are met, Medicare will help pay for all or a portion of a short stay in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care or home health care.
Did you know that Medicare does not cover custodial long-term care services? These services help people perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) that are non-medical, such as getting in and out of bed, walking, bathing, dressing, eating, and bowel and bladder management.
What about Medicaid? What is it? Did you think that whatever Medicare did not cover that Medicaid would? Medicaid is a joint federal and state government program that helps people with low income and assets pay for some or all of their health care bills. It covers medical care, long-term care services in nursing homes and long-term care services provided at home. Rules about who is eligible for Medicaid benefits and what services are covered are based on federal requirements, but states have considerable leeway in how they operate their programs. Each state is totally different and may choose to cover long term care or not.
To be eligible for Medicaid, you must meet certain requirements, including having income and assets that do not exceed the levels used by your state. The Medicaid eligibility process considers the value of your home to make sure it is under the state set limit, your assets and your income. Documentation from your financial institutions and your portfolio are reviewed for qualification and a “look back” of five years will be required. Once your state determines you are financially eligible for Medicaid, the state will conduct a functional assessment to determine whether you are disabled enough to qualify for long-term care services. Your state Medicaid Assistance office is the best source for information about how to qualify for Medicaid in your state and if you qualify for long-term care services.
If you receive Medicaid coverage for long-term care services, federal law requires states to recover the amount Medicaid spent on your behalf from your estate after you die. Most states recover the cost of long-term care services.
PAYING OUT-OF-POCKET FOR CARE
If you have enough income and savings, you will need to pay for long-term care services on your own, from your incomes, savings and, possibly, the equity in your home. Many people believe wrongly the medical insurance or the disability insurance they currently have will pay for all or much of their long-term care. In general, health insurance covers only very limited and specific types of long-term care. Disability policies serve to replace income and, as such, but do not cover long-term care at all.
Long-term care insurance is designed to cover long-term services and supports. Insurance policies reimburse policyholders a daily amount (up to a pre-selected limit) for services to assist them with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing or eating. You can then select a range of care options and benefits that allow you to get the services you need, where you need them. If you are in poor health or already receiving long-term care services, you may not qualify for long-term care insurance.
For additional methods of paying for long-term care can be found at longtermcare.gov.
For more information on home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909 www.personalpropertymanagers.com Personal Property Managers specializes in helping to transition elderly ones from their home of many years into senior care communities. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, full service real estate home sale services to help sell homes with proceeds going towards paying for the long term care of elderly loved ones and moving services.