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Nursing Home costs overwhelm families

How will I pay for nursing home care?


If you or a loved one is close to 65 years of age research indicates that you will eventually need some type of long-term, sustained medical care. Up to 40% may need to live for a period of time in a nursing home. What many people have not considered or prepared for is the high cost of a nursing home.



If you are considering long-term care, either for yourself of a family member, it’s important to take steps as soon as possible to minimize the strain of the financial impact. Although some types of private insurance policies can lower the impact, you would have to purchase these policies BEFORE any health event occurs or you will no longer be able to buy the policies.

What are the costs for Nursing Home Care?


Costs for nursing home care have skyrocketed, along with other medical expenses. For instance, in 2012, a private room can cost up to $90,000 per year, an estimated $248 per day (information provided by a Metlife Survey). If you opt to live with another person you can lower the cost to about $50 per day, but that only lowers the cost to approximately $81,000 per year, an expense that is out of reach for many American families.

One consideration, however, is that many patients don’t live in a nursing care for too long. The average stay is 835 days, according to a recent government survey. Obviously, costs can vary based on the length of the stay and also your geographical location.

How will I pay for a nursing home or long-term medical care?


How will you pay for long-term medical care? The first place to look is Medicare. For qualifying seniors Medicare may be available for short-term rehabilitation coverage. For instance, currently Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of care if the patient has previously had a hospital stay for at least three days and needs convalescent care after the hospital discharge. Keep in mind the patient would need to go to a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility.

Home health services may also be available to certain Medicare recipients and can sometimes provide enough medical assistance the patient can avoid a nursing home. Common services provided through home healthcare services can include physical therapy, nursing services and occupational therapy. Keep in mind that personal care such as bathing, restroom assistance, dressing and meal preparation are not part of what is provided through the Medicare home health benefit. Talk to your doctor if you think you might qualify for a Medicare approved plan of care.

Do I qualify for Medicaid Assistance?


Patients who do not qualify for Medicare assistance and lack sufficient resources to pay for a nursing home may be eligible for Medicaid assistance. Currently to qualify for Medicaid an individual cannot have assets of more than $2,000 in cash and investments. If you are married your spouse may have assets of an additional $115,920, the annually adjusted Social Security cap for 2013.

Can I gift my children assets to qualify for Medicaid?


Although you may think you can give your assets to your children so you can receive Medicaid this is not allowed. Gifts must be made five years prior to applying to the program or you will be automatically disqualified from receiving Medicaid benefits.

What’s the bottom line?


If you are someone you love looks like they may need long-term medical care within the next few years it is time to start planning now.
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