Apr 13, 2015

Medicaid could be the answer for your family as median nursing home bill rises to $91,250 (and even higher in South Florida)

One year in a long-term nursing facility now costs as much as three years of private college tuition. Frightening equation, isn't it? This is the staggering statistic revealed in Genworth Financial's  just-released 2015 survey of long-term care costs.

According to the survey, the median annual cost for a private room in a long-term care facility is now $91,250. But wait - that's the national median. In our area of Florida, the price tag is higher still: $106,580 in the West Palm Beach/Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area, and $99,463 in St. Lucie. The price has risen 4% annually for the last five years and there is every reason to expect the cost to continue to go up.

Obviously, this situation is jeopardizing the hard-earned savings of millions of middle class families. If an incapacitated person is married, the spouse naturally will worry about what he/she is going to be left to live on.

Most Americans who have not faced this situation are oblivious to the unimaginably high cost. They also believe, incorrectly, that Medicare will pick up the tab. That is not so: Medicare pays only for limited skilled nursing care, if it follows a hospital stay. It's only when a family member needs long-term care and a family finds itself facing financial ruin that the family discovers the bleak realities.

If you are a typical middle class person and do not have long-term care insurance, there may be another option, though: Medicaid (not Medicare). A combination federal-state program, Medicaid will pick up the cost of custodial nursing care once an otherwise qualified applicant has spent down his/her assets to $2,000. However, there are perfectly legal methods, done with full disclosure, that may hasten a person's Medicaid eligibility and may allow a family to retain a significant portion of assets. It is essential to consult with a certified elder law attorney for guidance, however. After all, the Medicaid office is not going to tell you about these methods any more than the I.R.S. is going to tell you about tax-reducing strategies. You need an expert!

Many people plan in advance so that they are Medicaid-eligible in the future, should they ever wish to apply for benefits. But even if your loved one is already in a nursing home or on the verge of entering one, it's not too late to take steps. Consult with The Karp Law Firm's Certified Elder Law Attorneys for expert guidance. Here are some helpful links:

Read about planning in advance for Medicaid benefits with a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust.

Read the Genworth Florida survey here. 

Read the Genworth report (inluding other state statistics) here.

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