Paying for Long Term Care in Nashville, TN and Surrounding Areas
The cost of long term care varies by how much help seniors need and the type of assistance required.
There are several options to pay for extended care for seniors, including Medicare, Medicaid (if qualified), long term care insurance, out of pocket, and Veterans Administration benefits. Your family should also consider how much assistance is needed – a few hours per week of care will be far less expensive than full-time in-home care.
Medicare only covers a narrow range of costs, so it is generally not the solution. It does not pay for extended care, but instead covers physician-prescribed home health care over the short term. In certain cases, Medicare covers up to 100 days of nursing home care as well as hospice care for those diagnosed with a life expectancy of six months or less.
Medicaid is the largest public payer of long term care. Those with limited income or those who receive Supplemental Security Income are likely to qualify. Medicaid will cover nursing care costs not covered by Medicare and may include home care.
When determining eligibility, assets such as homes and cars are not included. In some states, seniors who have spent their income on care may qualify, which is referred to as the Medicaid “spend down.” For those who don’t qualify, information on other state programs can be found through local Area Agencies on Aging.
Long Term Care Insurance
The purpose of long term care insurance is to protect seniors’ savings for extended care. This can be expensive, and premiums increase with age. This insurance is typically purchased before retirement and will continue to be paid after. Not all policies are the same:
- Does your policy cover in home care, assisted living, or nursing home?
- Will your premium increase over time?
- How long is the elimination period, or waiting time in which you must pay for your own care?
- Will your eligibility change over time due to changes in daily living?
Veterans Administration Aid
A veteran who has served 90 days of active duty (with one day during a period of war) or their surviving spouse may be eligible for VA’s non-service connected disability pension in order to help pay for care.
Paying Out of Pocket
For those who are not covered adequately by Medicare and Medicaid and cannot afford long term care insurance, seniors often must spend their savings or sell some of their assets. Be aware that nursing homes will be more expensive than in-home care services and that costs can be difficult to predict for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The Financial Impact
The cost of professional care services may seem too steep until one considers the constraints and stress which are placed upon family caregivers. It is very demanding to be available at all hours to provide proper care for a loved one, and family caretakers often have to put their careers on hold. Because of the large demands on their time, those providing care for their parents should assess whether their opportunity costs are worth it or if it is a better decision to pay for professional help to make everyone’s lives easier.