Understanding The Importance Of Long-Term Care Planning
Many couples approaching retirement or enjoying retirement assume they are prepared for advanced aging if they have saved for retirement and maintain a life insurance policy. Unfortunately, if either spouse requires long term care, a home health nurse or round the clock assisted living care, their expenses could well exceed what they have saved. Assisted living facilities in Florida can cost over $3,500 a month. Nursing home care can exceed $8,000 a month on average. Life insurance can only be invoked for loved ones after death unless you pay a steep penalty, and retirement savings can only cover so much. So how can you pay for long-term care without going broke? Long term care planning strategies can ensure your future health needs are met without tapping into your savings or assets you wish to pass on to future generations.
What is Long-Term Care Planning?
Long-term care planning is a devised plan to allocate funds or resources to cover for assisted living and medical needs in advanced age. Crisis planning is utilized when a loved one requires assisted living arrangements or home health assistance in the very near future or immediately. Pre-planning delineates the planning stages necessary to effectuate a complete long-term plan.
A thorough plan usually requires an intensive review of your financial health (debts, equities, investment portfolio, and other assets) to get a better idea of the funds you have available to pay for increasing medical costs. Because the average yearly stay at a long-term planning facility can exceed six figures, it’s important you devise a strategy to provide the care of a spouse or your own needs should you require it. What happens if your assets are not enough to cover the cost of assisted living, or you don’t want to deplete retirement funds in doing so?
Medicaid Waiver Eligibility
If you want to protect specific assets like your home, vehicles or investment portfolio, it may be wise to consider creating an irrevocable trust. Doing so will shield the assets from creditors or from the assisted living facility should you fall behind in making payments. However, you may also be eligible for Medicaid to cover long-term care. Many Americans assume that Social Security, disability (SSDI) or Medicare benefits cover long-term care costs such as assisted living, nursing home facilities or palliative and hospice care. Unfortunately, neither Medicare nor Social Security benefits authorize coverage for long-term care.
The Center for Medicare Services defines long-term care as “custodial care”. Custodial care services are not covered under any plans through the federal government or private payers like Carefirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Kaiser or other major health insurance providers. CMS does not cover long-term care costs because some incidental costs are not for direct medical expenses. For example, long term care planning also consists of activities and assistance that aren’t medical services, like helping an elderly resident prepare meals or with basic hygiene.
Fortunately, you may be eligible for a Medicaid waiver. Medicaid can sometimes be utilized to qualify for long-term care. Criteria to qualify includes a documented medical disability affirmed by your doctor that meets Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines. You must be at least 65 and would need to be interviewed by a third-party evaluator from CMS who would assign you a score indicating whether or not you require advanced nursing care assistance. If you have questions about Medicaid waivers, contact our elder law attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group.
Contact the Tampa Elder Law Attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group
Long-term care planning can give you peace of mind and security knowing your future is protected. No one can predict when health will start to decline, and the cost of assisted living services continues to skyrocket. It is crucial that you have a plan in place to secure a spot should you need assistance and be able to afford that spot without risking your assets. Our Tampa estate planning attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group work with clients everyday to develop long-term care planning strategies. We are conveniently located in Tampa and serve clients throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties as well as Clearwater and St. Petersburg. Call today to schedule a consultation.