What are the options for paying for long-term care?

Most of us cannot predict whether we or a family member will require long-term care. Depending on the circumstances and care needs, costs can range from a thousand dollars to over $10,000 per month. Medicare only covers skilled nursing care expenses in limited situations, such as for rehabilitation following a qualifying hospitalization. People can pay out of pocket from income and assets. Others have long-term care insurance that pays for care costs.

Many people who need long-term care must seek Medicaid benefits. Medicaid eligibility requires following certain rules of Medicaid eligibility. For those who are eligible, Medicaid provides broad medical coverage including long-term care in a hospital, nursing home and, in the community under waiver programs. The basic rule of Medicaid eligibility is that an applicant may have no more than $2,000 in “countable” assets in his or her name. In cases with a spouse living at home, spousal impoverishment protections allow the spouse to keep certain assets and income for their own support. The Medicaid application process is cumbersome and it is extremely important to formulate a plan to maximize financial resources.