Maybe you’re already in danger. Every day people in our area lose their homes because a catastrophic illness hits their family, and they can’t afford to pay the nursing home.
If your spouse or loved one suffers a stroke, develops dementia, or is simply unsafe alone at home, you could lose everything to the cost of long-term care. I see many people come through the door who are spending their life savings, and who will get no help from the State until they have spent almost everything.
You may not believe this, but if you’re single… widowed… divorced, our government does not help you pay for long-term care until you are BROKE! And if you’re a married couple, you may have to spend half of your assets or more before you qualify for assistance. If you do nothing, you may have to sell your home to pay for the medical bills that keep coming… and coming… and coming…
What are the costs?
- For a nursing home, the cost is over $75,000 per year nearly everywhere in North Carolina.
- For assisted living you can expect to pay $3,500 to $5,000 per month for assisted living…or more depending on the particular facility and the care needed.
There are only limited ways of paying for this type of care.
- Many people think Medicare and health care insurance will pay. It will, but only for rehabilitation and at most for 100 days.
- Long-term care insurance is another option, if you have it but many people don’t.
- VA benefits for war-time service can help but again, that doesn’t apply for everyone and the benefit is limited to $2,000 or less.
That leaves only two ways to pay for care: private pay and Medicaid.
- Private pay works if you have lots of money or not much at all. If you have plenty of money you might decide to pay for care without qualifying for Medicaid. And if you have limited funds, you can qualify for Medicaid quickly.
- But for people in the middle where paying an extra $5,000 or $6,000 per month matters, then Medicaid is the likely option. Will you have to become impoverished to get Medicaid medical assistance?
Naturally you don’t want to be out of money and out of quality health care options for your loved one. The truth is, you can be impoverished by long-term health care expenses long before “they” will throw you a Medicaid life preserver. As you know, a life preserver has a great big hole in it. A nursing home resident on Medicaid cannot have assets of more than a couple thousand dollars, and is usually limited to a “personal needs allowance” of about a dollar a day. How are you supposed to get by with a dollar a day? That won’t even pay for a hair appointment!
Unfortunately, in 2007, the Medicaid laws got a lot tougher. Government officials now audit FIVE YEARS of your financial paperwork, trying to find any detail they can to deny (or delay) access to the benefits that may be rightfully yours.
You would not ask the Internal Revenue Service to prepare your tax return, would you? They know all the hidden deductions – but they’re not about to tell you about them! That’s why you should get your advice from an elder law attorney specialist instead of the Medicaid office. An experienced elder law attorney will know all of the Medicaid rules and regulations in both federal and state law. By implementing smart planning, clients can avoid becoming being excessively impoverished.
The rules of Medicaid are nearly impossible for the layperson to understand. In fact, most likely, your family attorney will say things like, “It’s too late to do anything!” – or just shrug his shoulders and offer you the same old will and power of attorney that he prepares for his healthy clients. An Elder LAw specialist will know more solutions. They help people like you to deal with the mind-boggling, complex maze of Medicaid paperwork and the frustration that accompanies it. By getting the right help you’ll know where the landmines are placed along the Elder Care Journey.
Your next step should be to get plain-English explanations of what the dangers are and what you can do to avoid the hidden pitfalls that await you if you’re walking blind. If you’re facing a care crisis or planning ahead, you should act now to protect yourself, your legacy, and your dignity, to make sure that you “don’t go broke in a nursing home.”