Throughout the United States, nursing homes are among the most expensive forms of caring for the elderly. In Alabama, as in other places, many people falsely believe that Medicaid is the only option to pay for a spouse or parent’s long-term care in a nursing home. The truth, however, is that Medicaid is just one of the available options.
Through its state affiliates, Medicaid has become the single largest payer for nursing home care—paying for at least 40 percent of total nursing home costs in the country. In Alabama, approximately 70 percent of nursing home residents receive Alabama Medicaid.
In order to qualify for this means-tested program, an applicant’s income and financial assets are carefully examined, and he or she must meet strict economic guidelines. Once an individual qualifies for Alabama Medicaid, some or all of his or her income goes towards paying for the nursing home, with Medicaid covering the remaining.
Veterans have the option of applying for the Aid and Attendance Benefit, which is a program that provides monetary assistance to war-time veterans in need of another person to perform activities of daily living. A veteran’s income and financial assets are taken into account during the application process, as this program primarily aims to assist individuals with limited financial means. Veterans may use the Aid and Attendance Benefit towards payment for nursing home care or assisted living.
Another option for veterans and their loved ones is residing at a state VA nursing home. This option is not limited to war-time veterans, although the rule of thumb is that the veteran or the veteran’s spouse must be disabled by at least 70 percent. Nursing homes in each state have their own eligibility requirements. Take note that each home has a limited number of beds available, and that not all homes are designed for long-term care.
Reverse mortgages, in certain situations, may be used to help pay for the cost of long-term nursing home care. A reverse mortgage is a loan that a borrower takes from the bank against the value of his or her home. It may be paid out in monthly payments in order to offset the cost of nursing home care.
To qualify for this type of mortgage, a homeowner must be 62 years old and above, and must continue to reside in the home against which the mortgage is taken. Of course, an individual cannot live at home and in a nursing home simultaneously, and so a reverse mortgage is more useful for cases in which the individual is married and the spouse continues to live at home.
Long-term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance pays for roughly five percent of the total nursing home bills in the United States. The basic premise of long-term care insurance is that an individual pays now, and the insurance pays that individual later if he or she becomes cognitively impaired or loses the ability to perform activities of daily living.
Although the annual cost of long-term care insurance can be high, such policies can be a tremendous help later on. A particular covered event will cause an individual to receive insurance payouts, typically based on the beneficiary’s care or medical needs. Insurance payouts may be used towards nursing home fees, companion care at home, or any other care requirement an individual may have.
Consult with an Attorney
The elderly typically deal with specialized and sensitive needs, including the need for long-term care. An elder law attorney can provide you and your family with the information and tools needed to help make the best decisions for you and your loved ones. If you or a loved one are advancing in age, it would be best to discuss your issues with a compassionate and qualified elder law attorney who can help plan for the future. Call James B. Griffin, LLC at 205-502-2199 today.