Friday, June 25, 2010

Eldercare Tip: Medicaid Q-A

Perhaps, like many Boomers, you worry about money. Especially when your aging parent's health begins to fail. Medical bills soar. The bank account drains. You may ask: Will my aging parent's money run out? And if we apply for Medicaid, how can we assure that Mom or Dad won't have to move?

First the question: "Will my aging parent's money run out?" We don't have a crystal ball, nor do we know if your parent will be the rare person who lives to be 105. But some figures may help. An average assisted living community charges roughly $4000 to $5000 a month; approximately $48,000 to $60,000 or more annually. Private pay skilled nursing costs on average $100,000 yearly. Wow!

If you know your parent's net worth, you can estimate a range of how long the money might last, barring some financial catastrophe. Long term care insurance helps the nest egg last longer.

Second: "How do I find assisted living, adult family homes or skilled nursing facilities that accept Medicaid?" Eldercare Locator, a national website sponsored by the United States Administration on Aging, offers a data base and phone line with a trained professional on the other end. Or you can obtain a list of Medicaid certified facilities from your local senior center, hospital or Department of Social and Health Services.

Third: "My parents can pay privately for a few years before needing Medicaid. Can they move into assisted living, and remain there after they run out of money?" It depends on the community. Some assisted living communities accept private funding only. When residents can't pay, they must leave. Other communities require new residents to pay privately for a specified length of time--often a year or two-- before switching to Medicaid. They can then stay. Other communities accept Medicaid funding from day one.

Fourth: "How available are Medicaid openings?" The majority of skilled nursing centers nationwide accept Medicaid and have openings. Availability of Medicaid openings for assisted living and adult family homes varies from state to state. In Washington State, it is easier to find an adult family home accepting Medicaid than an assisted living facility. Early research will help as you seek to find a good place for your aging parent. So will flexibility and an openness to accept a good community that may not be in your back yard.

Can you tell us about your search for a Medicaid-funded community for your aging parent?

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