Long-term Care Costs – Medicaid Planners Can Help!
With Americans living longer than ever before, more and more are reaching a point where they are unable to care for themselves. Whether it’s due to a chronic illness, disability, or other causes, once someone is unable to perform essential activities of daily living on their own, they become a candidate for long-term care.
The National Institute on Aging defines long-term care as a “variety of services designed to meet a person’s health or personal care needs.” These services can be medical or non-medical in nature and are designed to help aging adults live as safely as possible, despite the inability to perform daily tasks.
It’s easy to be in denial, thinking that you or your aging loved one won’t need long-term care, but the likelihood of needing care is getting increasingly high. According to a 2020 statistic from LongTermCare.gov, “someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years.”
Many people initially turn to family to help provide long-term care, however doing so can lead to caregiver burnout. The toll on caregivers is psychological and emotional; in cases where a spouse is providing care, studies have shown a significant increase in mortality risk. If a family member provides care, there may also be a financial cost in the form of reduced work hours or sacrificing employment altogether.
In light of the heavy burden caregiving places on family members, some people opt to pay for professional care in the home. However, the cost can be prohibitive for those with limited resources.
While some are able to remain at home to receive long-term care, many others need a higher level of care than what can be provided in a residential setting, often leading them to move into a nursing facility. Nursing facilities cover a wide range of services, from basic living needs in an assisted living community to 24-hour care in a skilled nursing facility.
The average cost of a skilled nursing facility in the United States as of February 2021 ranges between $245 and $275 per day; that’s between $7,350 and $8,250 per month. Assisted living is less costly than skilled nursing, but the average is still a whopping $4,300 per month.
The need for care is real, but often times the financial burden is staggering; long-term care costs can easily exhaust a household’s finances, potentially leaving a spouse without the ability to maintain their standard of living.
For many, Medicaid is the answer to long-term care financial woes. This program helps eligible individuals with the cost of long-term care in skilled nursing facilities. In some states, there are additional programs that allow people to receive Medicaid benefits in assisted living or even at home. It’s important to note however that Medicaid policies vary from state to state and becoming eligible involves a complex set of rules and regulations.