In Focus: Long-term Care Planning

People are living longer today, giving them more time to enjoy their retirement years. Nonetheless, with aging comes challenges, not the least of which is declining health and medical conditions that may require long-term care. Given the high cost of medical care at home or in an assisted living facility, it is crucial to consider long-term care planning as part of a comprehensive estate plan. 

How to Pay for Long-Term Care

While visiting nurse services often provide homecare, the venue for elder care is typically an assisted living facility or nursing home. A common misconception is that Medicare covers the costs of long-term care, however, this federal program only covers a limited amount of nursing home or rehabilitative care. 

Ultimately, the cost of long-term care is determined by the type of health services being provided. As an example, the cost of specialized care for treating dementia in a memory center is higher than the cost of a regular nursing home. Nonetheless, the cost of long-term care can easily deplete a person’s savings and jeopardize their assets. 

For individuals and families who are not able to self-fund long-term care, other options include:

  • Long-Term Care Insurance: This type of coverage is designed to pay for certain personal and custodial care services at home or in a skilled nursing facility. There are strict eligibility requirements, however, and those with preexisting conditions may not qualify. Premiums for long-term care insurance can also be expensive, and the services covered vary from policy to policy. Nonetheless, this coverage could offset a portion of the costs for long-term care. 
  • Medicaid: This joint federal-state program, referred to as MassHealth in Massachusetts, is the largest payer of skilled nursing care in the nation. This is a needs-based program with strict income and asset limits, however, and those with sufficient assets are ineligible. With the help of a skilled estate planning attorney, it is possible to establish a Medicaid Trust which is designed to hold your assets and enable you to qualify for Medicaid.
  • Veterans Aid and Attendance: This is a pension program sponsored by the Veteran’s Administration that provides benefits to eligible veterans and their spouses who need home care or long-term care in a skilled nursing facility. 

The Takeaway

As more elders and their families grapple with the cost of long-term care, it takes a skilled estate planning and elder law attorney to explore all the options. As discomforting as thinking about aging and the related illnesses may be, long-term care planning will give you peace of mind knowing that your well-being and your assets will be protected.