With nursing home stays on the rise, Medicaid planning is vital

Like many people, most elderly New York residents probably don't like thinking that they may eventually need to rely on nursing home care. Many assume they'll never need a nursing home stay because their families will care for them, while others may think they can rely on government programs to cover the costs. The reality is that more than half of Americans will end up needing nursing home care, the costs of which are staggering and can quickly wipe out a lifetime of savings without proper Medicaid planning.

Researchers in a new study showed a marked increase in lifetime nursing home stays to over 50 percent, an increase from the previous estimate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human services of 35 percent. This lifetime use of nursing homes is notably higher and brings with it concerns over how this rising need will be financed. Out-of-pocket payments for long-term nursing home stays are astronomically expensive, sometimes upwards of $50,000. Financial risks are even larger for married couples.

With both the need for and the cost of long-term care increasing, a large number of people and their families are likely to rely on Medicaid. Advisors urge individuals and families to attempt financial planning. While study investigators believe some individuals would be able to afford brief nursing home care – with an approximate average cost of $7,300 – at least 10 percent of individuals end up staying in nursing homes for longer than 1,000 nights, according to findings. For the 5 percent of elderly individuals in the study who needed longer nursing home stays, out-of-pocket expenses were over $47,000.

These high costs would quickly deplete a lifetime of savings for most New York individuals and their families. The Medicaid assistance program steps in only after individuals have run out of funds to cover their own expenses, meaning that many people are left with next to nothing -- few assets and no inheritance to pass down to children and grandchildren. Fortunately, there are attorneys who focus their practices on Medicaid planning and helping elderly New Yorkers find ways to pay for the care they need without facing bankruptcy.

Source: consumer.healthday.com, "More Than Half of Americans Will Need Nursing Home Care: Study", Steven Reinberg, Aug. 28, 2017

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