A lot of people are stunned when they find out just how expensive long-term care has become. The MetLife Mature Market Institute publishes a survey every year that sheds light on the subject, and the 2010 figures indicate that the cost of long-term care could be accurately described as exorbitant and on the rise.
If you wanted to spend a year residing in an assisted living community in the United States in 2010, the national average cost would be almost $40,000. The same period of time living in a private room in a nursing home averaged just over $83,500 last year. Some 40% of seniors will someday reside in a nursing home, and the average length of stay is approximately 2 1/2 years.
When you digest the statistics above you see that these are not trifling expenses, and many people would find it difficult to pay them while still retaining a sizable legacy. And to make matters worse, Medicare does not pay for long-term care expenses.
The good news is that Medicaid will pay for long-term care assuming you can qualify. You cannot have more than $999 in countable assets and still qualify for Medicaid, but your spouse can keep his or her share of the community resources up to $115,920 (as of this writing). And, certain property does not count against you including your vehicle and your home.
Some individuals choose to “spend down” their resources in an effort to stay within the maximum resource limit so that they can qualify for Medicaid. One thing to keep in mind should you choose to go this route is the fact that there is a five-year “look-back” period. Your eligibility is delayed if you give away assets within five years of applying for Medicaid. The penalty is based on the average cost of long-term care in your state in relation to the amount of money you gave away.
The best way to find out more about Medicaid and other ways to address long-term care costs is to sit down and have a meaningful conversation a licensed, experienced elder law attorney.