Everybody always assumes that Medicare is going to pay for the nursing home, until they find out that Medicare only pays for up to a few months after a hospital stay. It's not meant to pay for long-term care. This is not a fun thing to find out when you're already overwhelmed with the physical care, time off work, and emotional toll that planning for the long-term care of a loved one entails. Most people don't understand that they have options, even when facing a crisis. Sadly, people will sell off assets and spend all of them to pay for the nursing home when that's really not the best way to go. Let's go over the three major ways people pay for the nursing home:
1. Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-Term Care insurance exists, and if you're young enough and can afford the payments, it's something that everyone should look into these days. People live longer, medical care is more advanced, and your likelihood of spending time in a nursing home or receiving nursing care in-home is high. Make this type of planning part of your overall financial and estate planning. But you can't buy it in an emergency.
2. Pay Out-of-Pocket
If you didn't have Long-Term Care insurance, you have the option to pay out-of-pocket for the nursing home. If you're rich, this isn't a problem. If you're not rich, this is a huge problem, because you'll have to sell off assets to pay the monthly bill, which averages around $7-8K per month here in Oregon.
3. Qualify for Medicaid
The last way to pay for the nursing home is to get Medicaid to pay for it. Medicaid is the healthcare program that is needs-based, and therefore, it comes with income and asset limits. What most people don't understand is that an elder law attorney can help you to qualify for Medicaid a lot sooner than you think by creating what is called a "spend-down plan." Most people think: well, we will spend down all of the assets and then apply for Medicaid. Actually, an attorney can usually help you to preserve at least half the assets by spending assets down on things that are allowable under the rules, gifting assets to family as a sort of pre-death inheritance, and then pre-paying the nursing home for the penalty period you incur by gifting the assets. It's hugely complicated and not worth trying to do on your own. Just know that if you have a loved one facing nursing home long-term care, and the $7-8K per month isn't something that the individual will have an easy time paying, you should immediately talk to an elder law attorney who can get them qualified for Medicaid as soon as possible.
Think about this: Most people who make it in life financially these days have received some sort of inheritance that boosts them to the point that they can pay off debt, or buy a home, or build up retirement savings. That inheritance is important, and an elder law attorney can help your family to preserve that. Everyone in the family can feel good about that. Mom or Dad going into the nursing home get to feel like they helped their family and are not a burden, and the adult kids get some help in life instead of seeing everything their parents worked for being paid to the nursing home.
It's never too early to meet with an estate and elder law attorney to see what your loved ones face if you need to enter a nursing home, and how you can make that easier on them. And it's never too late to talk to an elder law attorney about how to pay for the nursing home that your loved one is already living in.
To help you get your plan in place as quickly as possible, call or email today at (503) 235-5150 or Candice@CandiceAistonLaw.com.
To your family's health & prosperity,
P.S. Want to get started on the most important planning you'll ever do for your family? Give our office a call at (503) 235-5150 to get started. You'll be glad you did.