No matter your age at this moment, the fact is that long-term care may be something that you’ll have to contend with at some point in the future. By some estimates, more than half of today’s adults will need such care at some time in their lives. The problem is that most of them won’t be able to pay for that care on their own. Nursing homes are more expensive than ever before, and those costs are rising with each passing year. The good news is that there are ways of dealing with the cost of private nursing homes, including techniques that can enable you to preserve a large portion of your wealth while doing so.
Rising Costs, Rising Fears
Though the costs associated with nursing home care don’t always receive the media attention that they deserve, more Americans are learning about the issue as the population continues to age. With seniors living longer than ever before, more American adults are expected to eventually have need of these nursing facilities’ services. That naturally results in more Americans being exposed to these high nursing home costs, and the media has taken note of the problem as well.
That has helped to raise the issue’s public profile somewhat, as groups and companies like Genworth Financial continue to closely monitor what is rapidly becoming a true health care cost crisis in the United States. Long-term care insurance costs have spiraled ever higher, as sour economic times over the last decade have made it more difficult for many people to plan for retirement and future medical needs. It’s no wonder that so many older Americans and their families find themselves uncertain and fearful about what the future might hold.
No Need to Panic!
It might seem as though there is no silver lining amid the doom and gloom, but there actually is. In fact, there’s no reason to panic if you find yourself unsure about how to pay for rising long-term care costs. As unlikely as it might seem, there are ways that you can ensure that you get the help you need to get those nursing home costs covered and secure the care that you need. And it all comes down to securing eligibility for a government program that most Americans probably never thought they’d need: Medicaid.
Though it was created in the 1960s as part of the Great Society effort to win the so-called War on Poverty, the Medicaid program is about more than just providing health care for America’s low-income residents. Over the years, that program has expanded to cover long-term care needs as well – helping millions of seniors whose Medicare benefits can only cover a maximum of 100 days of care, and only in certain types of circumstances. Today, this program represents the biggest source of payment revenue for nursing homes.
Obtaining Medicaid Benefits
Like many government benefits, however, Medicaid eligibility is by no means a sure thing. To qualify for assistance, you need to have income and assets below the program’s defined levels – something that is not always easy for many seniors to accomplish. In fact, large numbers of seniors find themselves with too much wealth to qualify for the program, but nowhere near enough wealth to pay for their care on their own. That can lead to some uncomfortable choices for seniors and their families:
- Do you try to pay for care until you’ve exhausted all your resources – leaving you with nothing to use as a legacy for your surviving loved ones?
- Do you try to spend down your assets to get under the limits and hope that you don’t make a mistake that could lead to a costly eligibility penalty?
- Do you ask friends and family to pitch in and help to cover those costs?
Obviously, none of those options are ideal solutions. You should be able to enjoy the nursing home care that you deserve without becoming so impoverished that you have nothing left to bequeath to your heirs when you die. You shouldn’t have to become so destitute that you are forced to become little more than a ward of the state – dependent upon government benefits for your every need. And with many American families already struggling to keep pace in an economy that has been relatively stagnant in recent years, it’s almost too much to expect that many can offer more than token assistance to help with these costs.
Medicaid benefits can, however, be obtained without the applicant being impoverished. Depending upon your circumstances, an attorney can help you to utilize several strategic options that can protect assets, secure your family’s well-being and future, and organize your estate in a way that ensures that you meet those all-important income and asset limitations. Those strategies for asset management include:
- Annuities that can help you to convert assets into revenue streams that are more easily managed
- Spend down strategies that reduce your estate value by purchasing needed home improvements, a new vehicle, and other exempt assets
- Allowable transfer of assets to remove them from your estate
- The use of Medicaid trusts and other tools that can completely remove your assets from Medicaid consideration
- Long-term planning that helps you to ensure that your estate is structured to secure Medicaid eligibility long before you might need it
Of course, many of these strategies are so complex that you will need the help of a competent attorney – but that’s a small price to pay to ensure that you can care for your loved ones without sacrificing important benefits that you need for your own long-term care.
The Medicaid planning attorneys at the Fouts Law Group, LLC have the expertise you need to secure those critical benefits. Obviously, the best way to deal with the cost of private nursing homes is to use advanced planning years before you need that assistance, but the reality is that we don’t always have an opportunity to see such needs coming our way. Our experts can help you to achieve your benefit eligibility needs, and can often help you preserve much of your wealth even when you’re operating under severe time constraints. To find out more about how we can benefit your nursing home financing needs, contact us online or give us a call at (404) 596-7520
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