The prospect of living assistance can seem foreign when you have been fully capable of handling all of your own day-to-day tasks throughout your life. Without question, this is not a very pleasant subject, but you should be aware of the facts when you are devising a plan for aging. In this article, our elder law lawyers will discuss some of the most important issues relating to nursing home care.
Will I really need nursing home care?
In reality, most senior citizens will need long-term care of some kind or another, and many will ultimately require nursing home care. According to government reports, nearly seven out of every 10 senior citizens will someday need living assistance. This is a very profound statistic. The reality is that most people will need help with their activities of daily living at some point in time.
Don’t Overestimate Medicare Coverage
When you read the above statistics, they may get your attention, but you may not be concerned because you know that you will be qualified for Medicare coverage when you attain senior citizen status. Medicare will certainly provide a foundational source of health insurance, but unfortunately, Medicare does not pay for nursing home care. The program is set up to pay for convalescent care after an injury or illness, but it does not pay for custodial care.
Medicaid may provide assistance to cover the cost of nursing home care
One widely embraced solution is Medicaid. This government health insurance program does pay for long-term care. However, qualifying can be difficult, because it is a program that is only available to people that can demonstrate significant financial need. To qualify at the ideal time, you must plan ahead in a careful and informed manner. If you would like to discuss Medicaid planning strategies, our elder law lawyers can help. We offer free consultations.
How Expensive Is Long-Term Care?
When you are going through life as a healthy adult, long-term care could be completely off of your radar. Indeed, it can be hard to imagine a time when you may not be able to handle all of your own affairs. However, when you look into the subject objectively, you may be someone unpleasantly surprised. The majority of elders will eventually need help with their activities of daily living. In fact, the figure is 70 percent according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
If you paid into the program throughout your working career, you will qualify for Medicare at the age of 65 under currently existing laws, but Medicare does not pay for long-term care. The Medicare program will pay for convalescent care after surgery, but it does not pay for long-term living assistance.
Nursing Home Asset Protection
For many, the long-term care solution is going to be Medicaid. This government program does pay for long-term care, and most seniors in nursing homes are relying on Medicaid to pick up the tab.
Unfortunately, you do not automatically qualify for Medicaid if you need long-term care. This is a need-based program, so there is a limit on countable assets. For an individual, this limit is $2000 at the present time. There are some assets that would not be counted by Medicaid evaluators. If you take the right steps in advance, with the assistance of our elder law lawyers, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid without losing a great deal in the process.
Nursing Home Agreements
Did you know that the annual cost of a nursing home in Kentucky and North Carolina is well over $70,000? While the care of your loved one is certainly first and foremost, let’s take a moment to address another of the aspects involved – that of the nursing home agreement.
The number of pages of a nursing home admission agreement often goes into double-digits, and responsible family members are often facing challenges involving the care of their loved one. This can result in a legal nightmare when the family is unpleasantly surprised later when they find out just what they agreed to. Things to keep an eye out for:
- Restrictive visiting hours for family members,
- Liberal guidelines regarding the eviction or transfer of the resident, and
- A requirement that a family member accept financial responsibility for the resident.
Some agreements may violate federal law
These types of requirements in a nursing home contract may violate federal law; specifically, the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. Nursing home agreements may have a place for a third party to sign, usually after the resident and the nursing home representative. This third party is often referred to as the “responsible party.” The agreements are not always clear as to what the obligation of this person is. But a nursing home may not obligate a third-party to pay the resident’s bills out of their own financial resources as a condition for allowing the resident to enter or to continue to stay in the nursing home.
Our elder law lawyers are well-versed in nursing home law and can help you review a nursing home agreement and advise you on its true meaning and intent, not to mention the legality of the terms of the agreement.
If you have questions regarding nursing homes or any other elder law matters, please contact the experienced attorneys at The Potter Law Firm for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (704) 944-3245 (Charlotte, NC) or for individuals in Kentucky at (606) 324-5516 (Ashland, KY) or at (859) 372-6655 (Florence, KY).