Florida Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog


How will you pay for long-term care?

May 19, 2016
long-term care

Genworth just released its latest analysis of long-term care costs. The numbers are startling.

The cost

Nationally, the current median cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home is $82,125 per year; for a private room, $92,378. That’s an increase of 2.27% from last year. Florida costs are higher, of course: $89,060 for a semi-private room and a whopping $100,375 for a private room. (Oklahoma is the most affordable state for long-term care, but even there, the cost for a private room in a nursing home exceeds $60,000 annually.)

There is every reason to expect the price of these services to continue to rise. Certainly increasing numbers of people will need services: Genworth reports that 70% of Americans reaching age 65 will at some point depend on long-term care services. And a recent article in US News & World Report notes that  while 12 million Americans need long-term care today, the number will be 27 million by the year 2050.

No public policy, no answers

As yet, we have no effective public policy to address this crisis, nor is there one on the immediate horizon. Families in Florida and across the country continue to struggle. Families are going broke shouldering the burden. Interestingly, a 3/26/16 article from NerdWallet reports that medical debt (including debt incurred in long-term care facilities) is the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S.

Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care

Most Americans are unaware of this grim situation unless they’ve been personally affected by it.  Polls of Americans over age 40, conducted by the Associated Press in cooperation with the University of Chicago, reveal the public’s persistent misconception that Medicare pays for long-term care. It doesn’t: Medicare provides limited benefits for skilled nursing care, but none for custodial care. Fifty-four percent of poll respondents say they are doing little or nothing to plan to finance future long-term needs. Of course, there may not be much the the average person can do. Saving up to self-fund sounds nice, but given the astronomical costs involved, it’s just not financially feasible for many people. Long-term care insurance is another possibility, although it can be pricey, and  once someone is too old or too sick, coverage is generally not available or prohibitively expensive.

Medicaid may be available, even if you’re in crisis mode

The last possibility is Medicaid. While Florida Medicaid has look-back rules and penalties built into its regulations, our attorneys can often help a family preserve a significant amount of assets and gain access to benefits before “spending down.” Even at the last minute – when a loved one is about to enter a nursing home or is already residing in one — the right legal guidance may allow you to avoid financial ruin. Better yet, Medicaid planning can be done in advance. Contact The Karp Law Firm to schedule a consultation.