In the elder law community the subject of long-term care is a hot topic, and when you analyze the numbers you see a very profound challenge emerging. The population is aging rapidly with senior citizens comprising the fastest growing age demographic in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seven out of every ten seniors are some day going to need long term care. 25% of people who have reached the age of 85 are residing in a nursing home, so the fact is that there is a very realistic chance that that you will be spending some time in a long-term care facility.
According to the MetLife Mature Market Institute survey in 2010 it cost an average of nearly $40,000 to spend a year in an assisted living facility and over $83,000 to spend the same period of time in a nursing home. The average nursing home stay is about two and a half years. It should be emphasized that these are the figures as they stood in 2010; they are expected to continue to rise, so if you are planning for a possible stay in a long-term care facility in 20 or 30 years they could be much, much higher.
A lot of individuals are under the impression that Medicare will cover these costs, but in fact Medicare does not pay for long-term care expenses. But, Medicaid will if you can qualify. Your “countable” assets cannot exceed $2,000, but your home (up to $500,000 in equity), your motor vehicle, and your personal possessions don’t count. Plus, if you are married and you need to enter long-term care your healthy spouse can keep his or her share of the countable assets up to a limit of $109,560.
Qualifying for Medicaid can be viable response to the high cost of long-term care. But to do so in an optimal manner you would do well to plan ahead carefully with the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney.
Kuhn & Kuhn Law Firm is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.