Futterman, Lanza & Pasculli, LLP

Medicaid planning crucial as cost of care continues to rise

When they hear the term "Medicaid," many residents of New York may think of a government program whose main purpose is to help the poor. In actuality, almost 30 percent of the program's budget goes to pay for nursing home care and other types of long-term care for the elderly. Medicaid planning is an important part of estate planning, as this long-term care for the elderly is incredibly expensive.

In the United States, the average cost of a shared nursing home room is more than $82,000 per year, and private rooms are even more expensive. What's more, these prices are only expected to increase, since costs have risen by nearly 20 percent in the past six years. Even assisted living facilities are more than most people can afford, at a yearly average cost of almost $44,000 without the skilled nursing care provided by nursing homes.

As for aging individuals who wish to remain in their homes but need the help of an in-home aide, the costs rise to an exorbitant $175,000 per year. With a full 70 percent of individuals over age 65 needing some form of long-term care at some point, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this is especially worrisome in light of the fact that most Americans are not financially prepared to pay for their own nursing home stays or health care assistance. In fact, a 2015 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that approximately half of elderly individuals over the age of 55 do not have any retirement savings.

This is only one of many reasons why Medicaid planning with a knowledgeable New York attorney can be so essential. Medicaid serves not only those with no savings, but also many elderly individuals who have worked hard and saved their entire lives but still do not have enough money stored away to cover these exorbitant health care costs. From "spending down" to helping alleviate the financial burden on friends and family members, adequate Medicaid planning can be crucial to ensuring that the elderly get the care they need.

Source: wtop.com, "Why Medicaid matters to you", Aug. 9, 2017

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