Why Won’t the Government Cover My Care?

            It’s a comment we get frequently when someone calls our office just after getting sticker shock at the cost of their loved one’s long term care. Some get angry upon hearing that, if they have assets but no long term care insurance coverage, they’ll need to use their own funds to pay for care.

            I’ve always considered the response to be an odd one, to say the least. No one would expect the government to pay for your car or your food or your housing if you have savings of your own. In some cases we’re talking about people who have several hundred thousand dollars to 1 to 2 million dollars or more.

            Maybe it’s because Medicare covers the cost of medical care with supplemental “Medigap” insurance policies keeping the out of pocket costs so low. There must be some government program that covers long term care then, right? But, there isn’t.

            Certainly, the cost of long term care contributes to the anger and frustration. The average monthly cost of nursing home level care in New Jersey is $125,000 to $140,000 per year, $300,000 or more if you need a ventilator. That will eat into savings at a rapid rate.

            Medicaid is the primary government program that covers long term care but unlike Medicare it is needs based. You must essentially spend down your assets to next to nothing before the government will pay.

            However, you do have other alternatives. You can protect your hard earned savings from being eaten up by the cost of long term care. In some cases, the government has tried to encourage Americans to do just that by providing generous tax breaks to those who plan ahead. The key, however, is to take action before you or your loved one needs nursing home care. Your choices are always better when you plan ahead.

I’ve written about these options in this blog and also in my latest book, “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home”.  The message should be clear.  Don’t expect the government to bail you out, but don’t despair either.  You can protect your family.  There are some great options.  All you have to do is take action – now.

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