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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Medicare -- Not a Knight in Shining Armour

There is some confusion within the general population of our country. The confusion is that it is easy to place a person into a facility. Nothing could be further from the truth unless you are extremely wealthy or planned well for you golden age back when you were rockin’ with Dick Clark.

Let me make this perfectly clear, Medicare does NOT pay for any type of long-term care in a facility. There are certain cases where they will cover up to six-weeks of care after a 3-day hospital stay. Let
me say it one more time – DON’T expect Medicare to help pay for a nursing home for your mother or anyone else.

If you have worked throughout your life and collect Social Security benefits of about $1,200 - $1,400 per month, you probably make too much money to be accepted into the Medicaid program. So they will not pay for a nursing home facility. However, if you have been on welfare or aid for a large majority of your working years, you may not make enough on Social Security to eliminate you from qualifying for Medicaid. I am still trying to figure that one out.

You can qualify for Medicaid if you have enough “spend down” expenses, which you deduct from your income, to put you within range of acceptance. Expenses like paying for a personal aide, medical equipment, etc. can all be deducted from your income. That’s good to know.

If you are a Veteran, the VA will pay for a facility for you if you have a 70% disability rating on a military injury. Getting qualified and accepted with a disability percentage can take years to achieve. By the time you are qualified, the applicant may be dead and no longer in need of a facility.

Many people believe that Medicare will take care of us. Let me assure you, no one is riding in on a beautiful steed with a silver sword to come to your rescue. You will not be saved from the oncoming train. You’re on your own and that’s just the way it is.

If you were smart back in the 70s (when you were young enough to afford it), you bought long-term care insurance. That’s about the only way you can pay for a nursing home without the entire amount coming from your pocket.

The cost of a long-term facility these days runs from $5K to about $9K per month depending on your location and the services required. Even if you planned well for your retirement, most people don’t have that much extra cash available.

Riley and I worked from the time we were 14 years old. We have seldom been unemployed. We have both been known to work more than one job at a time. We have paid our taxes and have an above average retirement income. But it is not enough to support me and pay for a facility. In fact, the cost of a facility is more than the grand total of our income. Unfortunately, a social worker once told me that we’d be better off if we had not worked so hard. I apologize for our strong work ethic.

The bottom line is this… start planning now and put that plan into action. Figure out where you will live and who will care for you should you become unable to care for yourself. Meet with an Estate Attorney and get some legal advice about what is possible and what is just a dream. Get your ducks in a row now while you are still sane enough to make the hard decisions.


Anonymous said...

You did not specify the duration of time paid for by the $5K to $9K nursing home/long term care home costs. Here in California, and in some parts of Arizona, that $5K to $9K buys you a month.

Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

Anonymous -- That is correct. It's a $5K to $9K PER MONTH.