If you are reading this, you (or someone you love) may not have planned ahead. Shame on you (or them). I know this because the only reason to keep reading this article is if you are in crisis. My definition of crisis is simply paying more per month in long-term care costs than is made in monthly income. If you had long-term care insurance you are probably set. Most people do not. Guess what? You can’t buy car insurance at the scene of the accident. The same is true of long-term care insurance. It is difficult to purchase this kind of insurance when you are even in your seventies let alone your eighties.
Now you are likely panicked. Whatever the cost, you see your bank account dwindling and you wonder? What will happen? If you are married, your fear is even worse. What if one spouse depletes the family savings with care costs and passes away? The surviving spouse is left with debt, widowed and still has years or decades of retirement left.
If you are like most people, you might think health insurance or Medicare will help. It is important that you know that Medicare does not pay for long-term care. Want to know how I know that? If you go to Medicare’s website at medicare.gov, there is a sentence that says “Medicare does not pay for long-term care.” There you have it. The same is true for private health insurance. Those plans are for chronic care only.
The government benefit program that pays for long-term care is Medicaid, not Medicare. I know. Confusing, isn’t it? The words sound similar. They are not. Medicare is a national health insurance program for Americans over 65 years old. Medicaid is a needs based program for disabled Americans. There is a difference. A big difference as it turns out. In order to qualify for Medicaid, you must have a medical need, limited assets and limited income. Medicare does not have these requirements.
It’s all helplessly confusing. Someone in the government had the bright idea to have each state run their own Medicaid programs. Great! Now there are fifty different variations of Medicaid.
If you are a Veteran, there are programs offered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs that might help. Some of these programs help surviving spouses of a veteran even if the veteran was not injured during service.
This site tries to help. It attempts to make complicated ideas easy to understand so you can make a well informed decision. In it, we will talk about the different types of long-term care, costs associated with each and ways to finance these costs.