Nursing home care can have a devastating financial impact on a family that has not prepared for this cost. With healthcare costs on the rise in general, long term nursing home care is no exception. California, unfortunately, also ranks as the top 10 in the country for nursing home cost. With prices ranging from $220 per day for a semi-private room, to over $300 per day for a private room, nursing home care per year can easily be $90,000 to $120,000. This is a tremendous financial burden that Medicare offers very limited coverage for. Not only that, but inheritances and real estate can often be lost in the process.
One of the programs that can help families pay for nursing home care is Medi-Cal. It has been estimated that Medi-Cal assists about 65% of long term care residents. Medi-Cal, however, has strict qualification guidelines. Nursing home care must be medically necessary, prescribed by a physician, and there are certain income and asset requirements. If an individual is over the limit for either one of these areas they can be permitted to “spend down,” but it is not recommended an individual pursues this without the guidance of an attorney experienced in Medi-Cal. The application process itself is arduous and should be completed with an attorney’s assistance.
One of the major things that can go wrong if an individual attempted to transfer assets or applies without legal advice is that he/she can become disqualified for a certain period of time. This would mean that the individual and their loved ones would be responsible for the cost of their care during this time. Oftentimes this means the family spends any inheritance and may even have to sell real estate to cover the cost of this care. By putting a family home in trust, the family can protect their property and ensure it is passed on to future generations. Estate planning and seeking counsel before spending or transferring any assets can prevent major issues and help cover the cost of nursing home care without losing everything.
Like everything else, nursing home care costs are expected to continue to rise. If you do not want to become a financial burden to your family, it is highly recommended you meet with an attorney experienced in financial planning for long term care.