December 12, 2018

Filling the Medicare Gap: Funding Options for Long-Term Care

Filed under: Health Insurance,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Medicare — Tags: , , — seniorlivingguide @ 2:31 pm

Courtesy of Janet Campbell

A rapidly-aging population and the ever-increasing cost of care means that a lot of Americans will be forced to figure out how to pay for long-term care. Those who Filling the Medicare Gapdelay preparing and planning could be in for a difficult time and high debt levels: the average cost of a private nursing home room is $75,000 annually, and the median cost of engaging a licensed home health aide is about $152 a day. It is projected that these costs will only continue to climb as the Baby Boomer generation ages, which means that now’s the time to begin structuring a financial plan. The cost of delaying is simply too high. Here are a few options to consider as you look to the future.

Medicare Advantage plans

Seniors are all too aware that the older we get, the more our healthcare costs tend to rise. For that reason, many people 65 and older have a Medicare plan, but unfortunately, it won’t cover all of your medical expenses. That’s a big reason why 1 in 3 Medicare recipients have a Medicare Advantage (or Medicare Part C) plan to help pay for some long-term care costs, like dental and vision care, as well as prescription medications. If you already receive Medicare, it’s worth your while to look into an Advantage plan, especially because some of them offer $0 premiums. If you’re getting close to age 65 or are currently eligible for Medicare, be aware of enrollment dates and requirements so you’re prepared ahead of time; depending on the type of plan you get, your disability status and your employment history, you initial sign-up date will vary.

Long-term care insurance

This is one of the more obvious alternatives, but it’s often considered a cost-prohibitive option by many people. Long-term care insurance does become more expensive the longer you wait to enroll (for example, a yearly premium may cost you approximately $2,000 if you go this route at age 55). Many financial advisers recommend not waiting so long, and that there’s nothing wrong with taking out a policy in your 30s or 40s, especially if it’ll save you hundreds of dollars a year in premiums.

Insurance rider

A life insurance policy rider can give you early access to death benefits to help pay for long-term care. This allows you to access benefits early if you meet certain criteria, such as being diagnosed with a cognitive impairment. Benefits paid out early are deducted from the payout to beneficiaries after the policyholder’s death. Also, be aware that you may be able to sell a life insurance policy to free up cash for long-term care expenses.

Personal savings

A 2015 Department of Health and Human Services study found that most Americans required fewer than two years of long-term care, and that saving $70,000 could be sufficient to meet the need. Setting aside part of your investment earnings or long-term, interest-bearing savings can carry you a long way toward meeting that financial objective, and it’ll keep you from having to come up with an annual or monthly premium payment.

Health savings

If you have a high-deductible health insurance policy, you may be eligible for a health savings account (HSA) to help defray the cost of rising long-term health care expenses. HSA contributions roll over from year to year, and withdrawals can be made tax free as long as you use them to pay for healthcare expenses – that includes long-term care insurance payments. Contributions are tax deductible up to $3,450, and nearly double that if you have a family plan.

Medicaid

Medicaid is an alternative to Medicare, which does not pay for long-term care. Medicaid covers long-term care expenses if you’ve gone through all other financial resources, though eligibility differs from state to state. One problem is that you’re limited as to where you can go if you require nursing home care, since not every facility accepts Medicaid.

Long-term care can be prohibitively expensive, but that doesn’t mean it has to put a strain on your financial resources. Preparing early, whether that means buying long-term care insurance or starting a health savings account, is an excellent way to be ready if you or a loved one needs long-term care.

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March 22, 2018

Looking for A Memory Care Community?

Filed under: Alzheimer's,Long Term Care,Memory Care,Senior Housing,SeniorLivingGuide.com — seniorlivingguide @ 12:26 pm

By: Darleen Mahoney

When your loved one with dementia or other age-related memory problems is at the point where it is no longer reasonable or safe for them to live alone, you may need to find a community that is right for them. A community or facility that specializes in memory care. Do you know where to start? Do you know what to look for and how much does it cost?

The needs of folks with Memory problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other types of memory problems can vastly differ from those in need of long-term care. Choosing a memory care facility that is designed to meet your loved ones care not only includes their medical needs, but their comfort and safety.

Choosing the right memory care options may be confusing. To clear things up, assisted living communities offer special memory care units (SCU) in separate Looking for Alzheimer's carebuildings, floors, etc. It’s important to make sure that the staff have training and can properly assist patients with dementia or impaired cognition. According to Mitzi McFatrich, executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, “they can offer staff extensively trained in caring for people with dementia, individualized care that minimizes the use of dangerous psychotropic drugs, a home-like environment and activities that improve residents’ quality of life. But at their worst, they may offer little more than a locked door.” https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T027-C000-S004-how-to-choose-a-memory-care-unit.html. Be cognizant of this and do your research on the staff, training, and commitment to the overall well being of their residents.

Another option would be an independent memory care community which is distinct from assisted living, these memory care communities will have specialized skilled nursing in memory care.

Memory Care communities and care have higher costs involved due to the level of care that is required for their patients. Inquiring at the community or facility on the types of financial aid and availability to utilize Medicare or Medicaid may also provide additional financial support.

According to the National Investment Center for Senior Housing and Care, “every 66 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s, long-term care providers are rushing to offer memory care services. As of mid-2016, memory care facilities had the capacity to care for more than 65,000 residents-a 44% increase over the past 5 years.” Therefore, more and more facilities are being built and more focus is being put on the need for this type of care.

According to, https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-residential-facilities.asp#choosing it’s important to choose your setting as they make these recommendations:

  • Plan on visiting several care facilities. Look around and talk with the staff, as well as residents and families.
  • When you visit a care facility, ask to see the latest survey/inspection report and Special Care Unit Disclosure form. Facilities are required to provide these. The report and the disclosure form can give you a picture of the facility’s services.
  • Visit the facilities at different times of the day, including meal times.
  • Ask the care facility about room availability, cost and participation in Medicare or Medicaid. Consider placing your name on a waiting list even if you are not ready to decide about a move.
  • If you will be paying for the facility out of pocket, ask what happens if the person with dementia runs out of money. Some facilities will accept Medicaid; others may not. If you anticipate the need for Medicaid either now or in the future, plan to visit with a lawyer that specializes in elder care prior to moving into a facility to ensure a good financial plan is in place.

 

With the need growing and more facilities/communities being built and opened to accommodate memory care residents, there is more thought being put into the design and types of communities and facilities that folks in need of memory care will need to make them feel more at home. Country Living magazine featured a facility in Ohio that built a community that is designed to look like a small town from the 1940’s while each resident has a “little house”,  https://www.countryliving.com/life/a39630/nursing-home-tiny-houses/. There are communities that are including nurseries and doll therapy as new techniques arise in how to address the anxiety and stress that many patients with memory loss feel, https://khn.org/news/when-pretend-play-is-real-for-alzheimers-patients/.

 

Finding the Memory Care community that is right for your loved one should always include, online reviews, multiple visits to the facility without making an appointment, talking to friends and family of residents of these communities and staff. Until there is a known cure for this disease that continues to increase in diagnosis year after year, the need for these communities and care will only increase.

Ready to begin your search? We have 2,189 potential solutions! Begin your search here – http://www.seniorlivingguide.com/MapSearchAlzheimers.tpl

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