The high cost of long-term care has made planning a critically important issue for most middle-class seniors and their families. In fact, most seniors will likely require some form of long-term care. Sadly, many of them are unprepared for the significant financial burdens it places on their family’s hard earned savings. A family facing ongoing care at a rate of $10,000 or more per month can quickly exhaust their life savings. With proper planning, a senior’s quality of life can be maintained even as care costs escalate.
Long-Term Care Options
While some seniors are able to afford private pay care, the cost of long-term care will consume the resources of all but the wealthiest families in a matter of years. Those who have planned ahead by purchasing long-term care insurance have a degree of certainty and peace of mind, knowing that they have a lesser need to rely on other sources in the future. Unfortunately, many can’t afford the high cost of long term care insurance or worse, because of age of medical condition cannot qualify for long term care insurance altogether. If you do have long-term care insurance, you should have clarity about what your policy covers. Many policies have high deductibles or provide for only a short period of care in facility. In fact, many who have long-term care insurance still have to resort to Medi-Cal to pay for their care.
The other option to pay for care is Medi-Cal. A joint federal-state program, Medi-Cal provides medical assistance to individuals, including those who are 65 or older, who meet certain income requirements, or who are disabled or blind. Medi-Cal is the single largest payer of nursing home bills in America and serves as the option of last resort for people who have no other way to finance their long-term care. Although Medi-Cal eligibility rules are implemented by each state individually, care must be taken to comply with federal minimum standards and guidelines.
While Medi-Cal eligibility with respect to long-term care was not difficult in the past, there has been a steady drift towards more complex and restrictive rules, the latest being the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 which went into effect in 2006. California has been slow to implement these changes, and the law has resulted in complex eligibility requirements for those in need of Medi-Cal benefits. It’s no longer as easy as reviewing one’s bank statements. There are a myriad of regulations and we are in a period of change with regard to look-back periods, income caps, transfer penalties and waiting periods to plan around. In California, we can still plan using strategies that have not been available in many other states for years. People in the industry speculate that this will change very soon.
At Bay Laurel Law, P.C., we have the compassion and the expertise to help families prevent the financial strain associated with the high cost of long-term care. Contact us today at 650.525.0234 to start the process of understanding the issues surrounding Medi-Cal eligibility and to implement the planning and application process.