When it comes to big life events, people can get so wrapped up in the many arrangements necessary to plan that they may forget to take into account the cost of it all. It is usually the case when deciding to start some form of elderly personal care, whether it’s moving into an assisted living community or hiring an in-home nurse. However, financial planning for this situation is vital, as there are many moving parts: you have to take into account the different resources available to source financial aid, out of pocket expenses, the potential of selling off assets, among other things.
The median monthly rate for living in an assisted living community, according to the National Center for Assisted Living, is approximately $4,0008. For most families, this may seem like an unattainable amount to source monthly. Fortunately, state Medicaid programs can usually provide qualified low income families with financial coverage for both in-home and community-based personal care, and more than half of assisted living programs are Medicaid certified. Medicaid programs in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania are the only programs that do not provide their beneficiaries this care, but despite this service not being available in these states, there are still yet other options that may be available to you:
Knowing the difference between Medicaid and Medicare can get a little confusing, as they are often conflated in casual conversation. Medicaid and Medicare are two separate programs. Medicare is an age-based health insurance program for older adults while Medicaid is for low income individuals and families. Despite being for older adults, Medicare does not cover long term, full time personal care, such as assisted living. However, most individuals in assisted living programs are enrolled with Medicare, as it covers health care costs while living in these communities, providing access to skilled nursing care, hospital readmissions, and medications.
States frequently have waiver programs individuals may apply for based on the care they need. Some of these programs are combined with the state’s Medicaid program. Others yet are not combined with Medicaid, allowing the state greater freedom in accepting applicants, for example those who surpass the income restriction for Medicaid. When searching for these programs, be aware that each state may use different terms for assisted living, so make sure to try out different phrases when searching online. Be on the lookout for state-run and national welfare programs as well, such as those run by religious groups and other associations. The Veterans Administration (VA), for example, has an aid program, called Aid and Attendance, for veterans and family members of veterans who need help with everyday tasks.
On top of all of these benefits, it is important to determine what you would be comfortable paying out of pocket for later-in-life personal health services. For those who aren’t qualified for Medicare or waivers, there is always the option of private long-term health insurance. Thinking about this topic may be difficult for some families, but planning ahead will make the process of transitioning into this next stage of life a little less taxing.