Whether you (or your parents) are a senior citizen, and even if you (or your parents) already have insurance coverage for prescription drugs, you'll want to read on.
The problem of paying for long-term care continues to grow in the U.S. as the population ages but it is possible the situation can be resolved.
Of the three leading diseases that kill most Americans, two are well known for being financial nightmares: heart disease and cancer. The cost of drugs, multiple surgeries and hospitalization are widely recognized as presenting huge financial challenges to families, even when there is health insurance. But less known is the high cost of dementia. A study examined Medicare patients with cancer, heart disease and dementia and found that the average total cost of care for a dementia patient over the course of five years was$287,038. The average Medicare cost of care for a heart disease patient was $175,136. For a cancer patient, the average Medicare cost was $175,136. And while Medicare paid almost the same amount for each of these three diseases - around $100,000 - dementia patients had far and away more expenses that were not covered. The average out-of-pocket cost for a dementia patient: $61,522.The dementia patient needs human caregivers to assist them with basic activities of life and supervision, costs that are not covered by Medicare. The out of pocket cost for a dementia patient is more than 80% more than the cost for a patient with heart disease or cancer.
On September 18, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health in favor of the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (H.R. 670) heard testimony from Richard A. Courtney, President of the Special Needs Alliance (SNA) and principal in the Courtney Elder Law Associates section of Frascogna Courtney, PLLC. The bill would make it legal for mentally capable adults with disability to establish "Special Needs Trusts" (SNT) on their own behalf. SNTs are used by families and guardians to protect the eligibility of disabled individuals for asset-based programs like SSI and Medicaid, while continuing to own assets. On September 9th, the US Senate unanimously approved the same bill.
While few of us ever feel that we have enough money for retirement, strategies to help ensure that your nest egg lives longer than you do are addressed in The Boston Globe article, "Can you afford to live to 100?"
Perhaps a more palatable way to frame the difficult question of what would happen to your child if both parents die is this: "Do you want your in-laws to raise your child?"
Couples who are expecting their first child are busy with decorating the nursery and taking childbirth classes. In addition to planning for their financial future, estate planning should be a high priority to-do item. They need to purchase life insurance, set up a college fund, and answer one of the most unpleasant questions of all: What would happen to your child if you both die?
In 2012, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it legal for nursing homes in New York State to use and enforce arbitration agreements in admission contracts. Until that decision, patients and nursing homes with disputes had no option but to litigate - expensive and time consuming for all parties. Buffalo attorney Julie Bargnesi brings a unique perspective to this issue; currently an attorney who represents health care providers, she was formerly a nurse in a hospital where she advocated for patients.
"So don't give away your money. There are other things you can do ahead of time. Talk to an elder law attorney to make sure you are maximizing your dollars, that you can still give your kids some kind of inheritance and still go into a skilled nursing home on Medicaid."