Misconceptions About Who Pays for Long Term Care

July 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

A large majority of the American public still believes that the government will provide long term care when needed through Medicare.  It is this misconception that most likely prevents people from doing any planning at a younger age for the future need for care.  Contrary to popular belief, once a person requires long term care, as opposed to rehabilitative care from which they will heal and eventually return home, Medicare will not pay for long term care beyond 100 days of in-facility care, only the first 20 of which are covered 100%.

According to the National Care Planning Council (www.longtermcarelink.net) many people believe they can give away assets prior to the need for long term care and qualify for Medicaid.  The Council suggests that this belief prevents people from considering other ways to fund the cost of future care.  In fact, the earlier one starts planning, the more options are available to help protect hard-earned assets from total depletion, and a person’s total impoverishment before government benefits covers their cost of care.

The major governmental program that pays for a person’s long term care costs, once they are impoverished, is Medicaid.  However, Medicaid’s historical bias of paying only for nursing home care, has prevented most people from properly planning for their future long term care needs.  The good news is that Medicaid now covers Assisted Living care, and with the Health Care Reform Act, is shifting its emphasis to paying for more in-home care.  Now it is more important than ever to proactively plan for possible long term care costs by consulting an elder law attorney about the rule and regulations of Medicaid and the best strategies to help you legally retain as many assets as you can.  In addition to helping you protect your assets, proper planning also allows you to have a choice in care setting and in the types of services you receive.

Next week, I’ll talk about how preplanning can help you address these issues.

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