Jan 30, 2013

Florida Medicaid, V.A. may help ease long-term care worries

Older Americans are reaping a bounty of extra years. It's a trend that would have amazed the prior generation, for whom retirement was usually a far briefer experience. But that's not to say all those extra years are guaranteed carefree ones. They can also bring a bounty of financial and health worries to the average family. 

High on that list of worries is the fear of being wiped out by long-term care costs if chronic illness or incapacity strike. The most recent Metlife Survey of Long-Term Care Costs shows us the numbers behind the threat. Key findings include:
  • From 2011 to 2012, the average national cost of a private room in a nursing home increased 3.8%; for a semi-private room the increase was 3.7%. 
  • Here in Florida, the average daily cost for a private room in 2012 was $259, and $230 for semi-private. 
  • Florida's average cost for a home health aide is $18/hour in 2012.

Unless you are wealthy, can qualify for and afford long-term care insurance, or are lucky enough to stay healthy, chances are you are concerned about this threat to your family's financial security. Last month, investors ages 25+ responding to a UBS Financial survey said that their number one financial concern was "Being able to afford healthcare/support in my old age," well above "Having enough money set aside for retirement" and "Being able to retire when I want to."  Interestingly, respondents between 25 and 49 were also deeply worried about these issues, most likely as a result of seeing their parents and grandparents struggling with long-term care costs.

What to do? The truth is, there are few options available to help the average middle class family avoid financial ruin when a family member needs long-term care. Seeking legal advice is always prudent, whether you are planning in advance, facing a loved one's imminent need for long-term care, or even if your loved one is already in a nursing facility. With the proper legal advice, Medicaid benefits may be available without a family having to "spend down," potentially saving a significant portion of assets. Veterans benefits may also be available for certain veterans and their surviving spouses. Contact our experienced, bar-certified Florida elder law attorneys for expert advice. 

Perhaps in the future, we will have some sort of coordinated national effort to address this serious problem. One provison of the recent fiscal cliff legislation that has been all but eclipsed by the hoopla over taxes is the establishment of a national commission tasked with finding solutions to this growing problem.

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