Have you considered a future that might include the need for long-term care? Furthermore, how would you pay for long-term care if you needed it? Have you thought about the reality that in the future you may not be able to live on your own, in your own home, without mobility and cognitive challenges? In fact, it is not a reality that many of us want to face or plan for. In fact, with less than half of all Americans today even completing their estate planning, planning for short term or long-term disability coupled with the potential need to live in a nursing home is not something that most people want to think about.
However, a future with possible long-term care needs is one that you should actively be planning for now. You need to plan that you will live longer, your health care costs will rise, and there will be few government resources to rely on. It is important for you to identify both the right long-term care support for your own unique needs and a way to pay for the care you find.
Are you planning for the Medicare to pay for the cost of your long-term care? Unfortunately, that will not happen because Medicare is an acute payor system. Therefore, it will only help cover part of the cost of care on a short term basis such as, a hospital stay when you need to have surgery, part of your doctor’s bill, or a brief rehabilitative stay in a rehabilitation center or nursing home. Be mindful that it will not pay for long-term care or custodial care when you are not able to improve over time or need round the clock care based on your physical or cognitive needs.
With all this information we have shared, how do you pay for long-term care? We would like to share the following recommendations you may need as you begin the work to be sure you and your loved ones are protected.
1. You need a baseline in place for your needs. Be aware that what you may need will be unique to you. You need to know what your overall health is now, as well as that of your partner, to begin to plan for the future. Are there any preexisting conditions that could affect your health now or in the future? Have you recently had a diagnosis that could lead to a future disability? Do you have any physical or cognitive issues that you know about but have not wanted to plan for? It is critical to have a baseline in place for your needs in order to understand how to plan for long-term care.
2. Your plan is to pay for your own care. It is hard to believe, but the average cost of care in your own home begins, in most states, at $4,500 per month while the average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $9,000, depending on where you live. However, you can learn more about the options in your specific zip code using the Genworth Cost of Care Study by clicking this link. Would you be able to, right now, pay for this care while still maintaining your home, your existing expenses, and ensuring your spouse and children are not impoverished? Sadly, for most of us, the answer is no and thus we need to begin planning as soon as possible.
3. Think about investing in long-term care insurance. You should consider and look into whether long-term care insurance is available for you. Long-term care insurance will be able to help you pay for care either at home, in an independent or assisted living facility, or in a skilled nursing home. Because there will be an assessment of your physical condition, you should begin as soon as possible. Take care to look at variables surrounding when the policy is activated, the total amount benefits to be paid, and how long you need to pay in before it can be used.
4. Include your family in discussions about long-term care and how to pay for it. You may have a family member who is able to care for you in your own home. If not, you and your family may need to look at any benefits you might be eligible for. There are a number of state and federal programs that could help you pay for long-term care, however you will need to qualify based on both your healthcare needs and your financial resources. One such program is the Medicaid program. This program, should you qualify, may be able to take much of the monthly burden of paying for long-term care off of yourself and your family.
5. We highly recommend that you meet with an experienced Florida elder law attorney. Your elder law attorney will be able to guide you through the complex maze of long-term care planning. In addition, your attorney will be able to understand your unique situation and provide a plan to not only find the right care for you but identify ways to pay for it. Keep in mind that by planning early there are often more planning options available to you and your attorney. Although there are steps that can be taken in a crisis, the earlier you can make a plan and implement it, the better.
Planning for the future is critical to ensure that your goals for the end of life are achieved. We know this article may raise more questions that it answers. We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering.