Friday, March 27, 2015

Busted Long Term Care Myths

Long term care can be a complicated issue and some people sometimes misunderstand the details. The best way to avoid misinformation about long term care is to learn the facts.

Here are five busted long term care myths:

1.     I am still young and I don’t need long term care

Long term care is not exclusive to the elderly. Almost forty percent of long term care is provided to people under age 65.

People who need long term care require assistance with taking care of themselves due to:

·         Diseases
·         Disabling chronic conditions
·         Injury
·         Developmental disabilities
·         Severe mental illness.

Age does not always determine the need for long term care and can be caused by external factors that may have affected an individual’s ability to do certain tasks.

2.       My family will take care of me

The adult children of today’s society have different goals in life and such is to live further away from their parents as soon as they can.

Aside from leaving their parents as soon as possible, they are also taking less vacation time and working longer hours.

In truth, taking care of a family member is a full-time commitment that often demands a significant number of hours from multiple family members.

Even if family members are able to find time to provide care to the relative in need, it often dramatically affects the provider of care’s income.

Having a family take care of you may be an option but it will be difficult without additional assistance.

3.       Medicare or Medicaid will pay for my care expenses
Medicare is generally available for people over age 65, as well as the disabled. It only pays certain amounts for skilled care, followed by hospital stay. It is also not intended to cover care that assists people with activities of daily living for long periods of time.

To be specific, Medicare covers the first one hundred days of skilled care in a nursing home after a hospital stay of at least 3 days and as long as you enter a nursing home within 30 days of leaving the hospital.

Medicare will cover some home health care for the treatment of an illness or injury.
Learn more about what Medicare does and does not cover at
To become eligible for Medicaid, people are required to meet their state’s required level of assets. Because of the requirement, people make attempts to "spend down" their assets.
Some of the common attempts include transferring their assets to family members, however, states now have the authority to examine a Medicaid applicant's past five years of finances and impose penalties.

Find out more about eligibility and Medicaid coverage at

4.       Health Insurance will cover my bills

Ongoing chronic care needs are rarely covered by health insurance. Most health plans, such as TRICARE, TRICARE for Life, and FEHB, are designed to cover skilled, short term medical care while you recover from an injury or illness.

5.       I can save enough on my own

Paying privately using personal savings is a basic way to cover long term care expenses. However, you will need to consider the expenses of long term care services before deciding to pay out-of-pocket.

The current national averages for long term care services are as follows:

·         $19/hour – home health aide
·         $71/day – care in an adult day care center
·         $227/day – a semiprivate room in a nursing home
·         $258/day – a private room in a nursing home
·         $3,427/month – care in an assisted living facility

Home care, the most preferred long term care service, is generally more affordable than nursing home care but still can be expensive. The national average cost of a six-hour visit by a home health aide is $114 which equals to $29,640 per year for a home health aide visiting six hours per day, five days a week.

In 2013, the national average cost of a semiprivate room in a nursing home was $82,855 per year.

You may want to consider the total cost if you need more than one year of care. For example, the cost of care for three years is more than $248,000.

If you can afford these expenses, paying for long term care out-of-pocket may be an option for you.

These figures provided are national averages and long term care services may be less expensive or more expensive in your region.

Also, each individual's situation, condition, and need is unique and you may save more or less than others.

Before you jump to conclusions about long term care, be sure to learn more about the facts, instead of making your decisions based on other people’s opinions. 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dingell Pushes Long Term Care Reform

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell was trying to make her contribution on health care reform last Wednesday with a budget amendment that can help improve access to long term care. According to Dingell, “Too many seniors today are relying on a disconnected system of barriers that doesn’t work.” Her statement is true since neither Medicare nor Medicaid can satisfy the long-term care needs of everyone.

Dingell proposes to create a reserve fund that will pay for a pilot program or other congressionally mandated effort looking at ways of addressing high cost of long term care. 

You can read the full article when you visit this website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How Much Does Long Term Care Cost and How Is It Paid?

When getting long term care related services and support, it is usually followed by two important questions; how much does it cost and how is it paid?
However, there are no simple answers as to how much it costs and there are different options on how it can be paid.

How Much Does Long Term Care Cost?
There is no “definitive cost” for long term care related services and supports since it depends on each individual’s needed type of care, the place where it is provided, and the state where you receive your care.

The differences with long term care costs are vast, for example:
·         The average hourly cost of home care ranges from $24 per hour in Hartford, Connecticut, while in Montgomery, Alabama, it is $15 per hour.

·         For nursing home care costs, it ranges from $462 per day in New York City for a semiprivate room, while it is $148 per day in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Most people decide to receive home care, even though it can be expensive, it is still usually more affordable than nursing home care.

The national average cost of a six-hour visit by a home health aide is $114, according to
It will sum up to a total of $29,640 per year for a home health aide, visiting no less than six hours per day, five days a week. The higher the number of hours for required care, the more costly it will be.

How is Long Term Care Paid?

In paying for long term care, here are currently available options:

1.       Private Payment

A few people are able to consider paying for long term care needs using their savings. However, even those with properly laid out plans are faced with unexpected financial challenges.
In 2013, semiprivate rooms in nursing homes can cost up to $82,855 per year, according to "John Hancock 2013 Cost of Care Survey," conducted by LifePlans, Inc.
You may want to consider the total cost if you will require more than one year of care.
Meanwhile, there are no other ways to be sure that you will not need long term care before you have saved the appropriate amount to cover the increasing cost of care.
Unexpected events can easily exhaust your savings or the funds that you may have counted on for long term care expenses.

2.       Medicaid

Medicaid is a state-based program, supplemented by Federal funds that act as a financial safety net to pay for health services of those who meet their state's requirements and poverty guidelines.

If you are able to meet the financial and functional criteria of Medicaid, it can help you pay for the largest share of long-term care services costs.

If you can meet your state's poverty criteria, Medicaid may cover your long term care costs and help pay for the care you will receive.

However, it usually means that you will have to expend everything but $2,000 of your assets and savings (except for some cases, your house and car).

It would also mean receiving care from a limited number 
of state-approved caregivers (mostly institutions like nursing homes) that are willing to accept Medicaid's payments.

When long term care services are paid by Medicaid, it limits your ability to decide in terms of the type of care you can receive and where you can receive it.

Most people, to become eligible for Medicaid, "spend down" their assets in line with the state-required levels using up their retirement nest-egg and funds intended for their heirs.

To avoid "spending down" their assets, some people transfer their assets to a family member or a trust.
However, The Federal government now allows states to go back five years to examine the finances of people applying for Medicaid, which makes it more difficult for other people to meet the poverty guidelines.
If the state finds out that assets were given away during that time period, they are allowed to impose a penalty period before you are eligible to receive benefits.

Typically, it is determined by dividing the average monthly cost of nursing home care into the amount that was given away.

Medicaid eligibility requirements vary by state and for more information, contact your local Medicaid office or visit

3.       Veterans Affairs-Funded Long Term Care

Certain long term care services are made available to veterans by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system, based on a priority ranking system. The highest priority is provided to those with severe service-related disabilities.

VA-funded long term care is worth investigating, especially for veterans with service-related disabilities and/or limited incomes and assets.

However, in addition to the priority ranking system, the availability of long term care services from the VA may be subject to funding limitations and may vary by geographic area.

For more information on eligibility for VA benefits, please visit

4.       Long Term Care Insurance

Long term care insurance is a reliable method of paying for long term care expenses. For more detailed information on long term care insurance, click here.

Finding out how much long term care costs and how you can pay it allows you to determine your long term care plans and budget for health care.