What is Long-Term Care?
Our Medicaid Attorney Can Assist with Senior Housing and Long-Term Care Options
Elder law is another aspect of estate planning, focusing primarily on the needs of families and individuals as they age. Issues of aging include senior housing and home care, long-term (or nursing home) care, guardianships and health care documents, Medicare and Medicaid.
The Long Term Care Dilemma
As our population ages, more and more of us confront elder law-related issues, whether for ourselves or our parents. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care, which usually is not covered by traditional health insurance. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, nursing home care can cost from $35,000 to $150,000 a year. The average stay is slightly more than three years.
Most people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted, then they may qualify for Medi-Cal benefits to pick up the cost. Careful planning, however, can ensure that you get the benefits to which you are entitled, while protecting your assets, for your spouse or children, ensuring that the legacy which you have worked so hard to build is there for your loved ones.
Clients are frequently confused about the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. 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. The rules for nursing home coverage are very strict and, in fact, Medicare pays for less than 9 percent of nursing home care in this country.
Medicaid, is a joint federal-state program, subject to certain federal requirements, each state implements its own regulations on how the program is managed and in California is known by the name Medi-Cal. Medicaid or Medi-Cal is not an entitlement program like Medicare, but rather a form of welfare. Medi-Cal eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state. There are many Medi-Cal insurance programs available in California, from basic medical coverage to nursing home programs.
The California Department of Elder Affairs provides a wealth of information for seniors and caregivers.
At Family First Estate Planning Services, we assist seniors and their families in making tough decisions regarding long-term care planning, including whether Medi-Cal eligibility may be an option.
Senior Housing Options
Helping a parent move to senior housing can seem more intimidating than orchestrating a rocket launch. The death of a spouse, declining health or safety concerns can trigger the need to move. The first phase comes with the realization that what has been home is no longer suitable. Emotional ties to a place are hard to overcome. Finding a new home that is appealing and appropriate is no easy task, and neither is going through a lifetime’s accumulation of “stuff.”
Here are some tips to help make the transition easier:
- Plan ahead. Don’t wait for a health crisis to start the process. The smoothest transitions occur when the person moving is in the driver’s seat.
- Get a full assessment of the current situation. Physical care needs and financial resources are where 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 seniors.
- Take a multi-phase approach. Seniors often take longer than a year to actually make the move.
- Fully explore new housing options. Senior living offers a broader range of options than ever before.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purpose only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.