This guest post is courtesy of Jason, a personal trainer and primary caretaker of his mother. He reached out to me because of his hopes to help aid seniors’ physical and mental health. This is his second guest post on I-2-W because he’s that passionate. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you know how you would pay for long-term care, like a room in a nursing home, suite in an assisted living facility, or an in-home nurse? If you think your private insurance will pay, well, you may be right – but there’s no guarantee. If you think your Medicare plan – even Advantage or Medigap supplemental plans – will help, then you are mistaken.
You don’t want to be caught off guard. The costs of long-term care can total close to $100,000 a year, so it’s worth thinking about, no matter your age. Here’s how you can pay for your own care – or a loved one’s – without crashing through your financial floor.
Limit your long-term care to the in-home variety
Stays at nursing homes and assisted living facilities are quite expensive. Hiring an in-home care nurse (whether part-time or full-time) can be a bit cheaper on the whole. So, it stands to reason that if you can manage to age in place (that is, to grow old in your own home), it may be the best choice for you. You’ll want to look into home modifications to make this possible, including widening doorways, installing ramps, putting grab bars in the bathroom, increasing lighting, removing loose carpeting or rugs, and installing railings on both sides of stairs.
While Medicare barely covers 7 percent of nursing home and assisted living costs in the US, Medicaid pays for a vast majority of them. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid will cover long-term care. The problem is you must qualify through low income. (Eligibility requirements vary by state, based on the number of people in your household.) Note: In recent years, it’s become much harder to transfer assets to others in the family to avoid crossing the financial threshold to qualify for Medicaid.
Check your life insurance policy
If you have whole life, universal life, or some types of variable (not term) insurance, you have a few ways to draw cash out of your policy. All of these ways will disrupt the full benefits of the policy, so think about it before you take seemingly “free” money. Some policies allow you to borrow money against the cash value (like a loan with interest). Some will allow you to simply surrender the policy for a cash value payout. And finally, there’s always the option for a “life settlement,” where you sell the policy to a third party for a lump sum.
Draw cash from your home equity
A recent survey found that 10 percent of seniors are planning to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for long-term care. By allowing a lender to purchase equity in your existing home by paying you, you’ll not only be receiving checks monthly, you’ll also cease your own mortgage payments. Remember, you will lose equity in your home by doing this, but reverse mortgages are becoming a more popular option for those who have owned their home for decades.
Other governmental remedies
Medicaid and Medicare aren’t the only government programs out there, and some will at least help you with long-term care costs. For instance, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides coverage for long-term care for some disabled veterans. Social Security benefits or part of a government pension are sometimes enough to cover the monthly costs of care. Beyond that, remember that nursing home care is tax deductible.
While all of these potential funding solutions do work for many people, they fall in the “immediate need” category. It’s important to remember that it always helps to plan and save. If you can create multiple, long-term sources of potential income through investments, retirement savings, and even purchasing long-term care insurance, you can avoid some of the more drastic cash-finding measures if the sudden need for long-term care arises.