The coronavirus pandemic has taught us that change can strike at any moment, often without warning. One medical emergency or illness can suddenly change everything. What happens when someone is suddenly in need of long-term nursing care? Many Southeastern Massachusetts families need to find long-term care for their loved ones on short notice. As costs for long-term care continue to rise, Medicaid crisis planning is more critical now than ever.
The Cost of Long Term Care in Massachusetts Keeps Rising
The population of the United States is aging fast, and people are living longer than they have in previous generations. Every day from now until 2030, 10,000 people in the Baby Boomer generation will turn 65. Many older Americans will need long term care. Seven out of 10 people in the United States will need long term care at some point in their lifetime.
In 2019, the average monthly cost for a private room in a Massachusetts nursing home facility was $13,212. The average monthly cost for a semi-private room, shared with another resident, was $12,473. Assisted living facilities cost an average of $5,640 a month. Many individuals cannot afford to stay in a nursing home. They choose to live with another family member and pay for a home health aide. Home health aides cost an average of $5,242 per month.
Paying for Long Term Care When a Crisis Strikes
Most Massachusetts residents who have worked hard and saved diligently for retirement cannot afford the monthly costs of nursing home care. When injuries or illnesses strike, however, most Massachusetts residents do not have a plan in place for medical care. At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, we have spoken to many families who need to place their loved one in a nursing home due to a sudden illness or injury. They are rightly worried that their loved ones will soon run out of money due to the high cost of nursing care.
Qualifying for Medicaid While Keeping Your Assets
At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, we help our clients engage in Medicaid crisis planning. The goal of most of our clients is to qualify for MassHealth. MassHealth is the Massachusetts Medicaid program that provides state-funded insurance and long-term care benefits to those who are eligible. Only those whose income falls below MassHealth’s limit will qualify for Medicaid. Our legal team helps people qualify for these MassHealth long-term care benefits without draining their hard-earned assets.
When our clients are married, the spouse who needs long-term care can transfer assets to the spouse living in the community. Transfers to another spouse need to follow specific protocols. Usually, the spouses will need to create new wills so that if the spouse living in the community dies before the spouse in the nursing home, the inheritance will not disqualify the spouse in the nursing home from MassHealth benefits.
Another strategy we use in emergency MassHealth planning is to create an annuity to protect the assets of the person trying to qualify for MassHealth. An annuity converts a person’s assets into income. We can structure the annuity so only the healthy spouse living in the community can use the income. If the individual is unmarried, we can create an annuity with a low monthly income so the individual can still qualify for MassHealth benefits.
Medicaid Crisis Planning Requires Experience and Creativity
At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, we understand that there is no “one size fits all” solution for Medicaid crisis planning. We also understand that going through a health emergency that requires nursing home care is stressful and unexpected. We take the time to listen to the needs of our clients carefully. After evaluating their needs, our legal team works together to create a solution that works for them. Contact our Southeastern Massachusetts Medicaid planning law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.