Elder law is another aspect of estate planning, focusing primarily on the needs of families and individuals as they age. Issues of aging include: securing senior housing and accommodations; identifying, accessing and paying for quality care; identifying the need for long-term (or nursing home) care; creating, guardianships and health care documents; and applying for Medicare, Medicaid or Veterans Benefits funding.
As our population ages, more and more of us confront elder law-related issues, whether for ourselves or our parents. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care, which usually is not covered by traditional health insurance. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, nursing home care can cost from $35,000 to $150,000 a year. The average stay is slightly more than three years. Most people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted, then they may qualify for Medicaid to pick up the cost.
Careful planning, however, can help protect your assets, whether for your spouse or for your children. The belt-and-suspenders approach is to purchase long-term care insurance while you are healthy enough to qualify, and to make sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled under Medicare and Medicaid, or perhaps Veterans Benefits.
Clients are frequently confused over the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Though their names are very similar, the programs are quite different. Medicare is an entitlement program, a federal health insurance program in which most people enroll when they turn 65 years old. There are no financial qualification rules. Medicare has two primary parts: Part A and Part B.
Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care, extended care after a hospital stay, some home health care services, and hospice services. The rules for nursing home coverage are very strict and, in fact, Medicare pays for less than 9 percent of nursing home care in this country.
In order to provide valuable Medicare support information and resources following "Understanding Medicare," a recent American Association of Attorneys-CPAs study group presented by Jane Lehto, MRR-Medical Reimbursement Resource, and Attorney-CPA Tom McCulloch, we have provided: "Medicare Enrollment Check List," "Application for Enrollment in Medicare," "Request for Employment Information," and summary pages from MRR's "Understanding Medicare" presentation materials.
Medicaid, is a joint federal-state program, subject to certain federal requirements, each state implements its own regulations on how the program is managed. Medicaid is not an entitlement program like Medicare, but rather a means tested benefit. Medicaid eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state. There are many Medicaid insurance programs available in Texas, from basic medical coverage to nursing home programs.
The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services provides a wealth of information for seniors and care givers.
We assist seniors and their families in making the tough decisions regarding long-term care planning, including whether Medicaid or Veterans Benefits eligibility may be an option.
Helping a parent move to senior housing can seem more intimidating than orchestrating a rocket launch. The death of a spouse, declining health or safety concerns can trigger the need to move. The first phase comes with the realization that the family home is no longer suitable. Emotional ties to a place are hard to overcome. Finding a new home that is appealing and appropriate is no easy task, and neither is culling through a lifetime's accumulation of "stuff."
Here are some tips to help make the transition easier:
Click here for a chart of Texas Medicaid Facts for 2015.