Nobody wants to need care in a nursing home, but the reality is that many people do. According to the Ohio Department of Aging, over 80,000 Ohio residents receive care in more than 1,000 nursing homes. Many of those who go into a nursing home are there for three months or less, perhaps for rehabilitation after a hospital stay before they are able to return home. But many others are in a nursing home for the foreseeable future, and the cost of that long-term care is on the rise, both in Ohio and across the nation. Experts call this the "silent crisis."
The average cost of nursing home care in Ohio is reported to exceed $5,000 per month, but many elder law professionals report that it is rare to find care for less than that amount, and that long-term nursing care often approaches or exceeds $100,000 per year. Nationwide, the average cost of a private room in a nursing home has increased to over $92,000 per year. The rate of increase is about that twice that of inflation in general. With a nationwide increase in cost of about 19 percent in the past five years, the rate of increase in nursing home costs is showing no signs of slowing.
Few families are able to set aside enough funds to pay for long-term nursing home care. Because Medicare does not pay for an extended stay in a nursing home, without planning, many families find themselves "spending down" assets in order to qualify for Medicaid to pay for needed nursing home care.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to dissipating your assets in order to pay for your nursing home care, or your spouse's. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as placing all your assets in your adult children's name. Medicaid has a "look-back" period of five years to determine whether an applicant improperly transferred assets.
There are, however, a variety of government-approved means of protecting your hard-earned assets for your family, including Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts (MAPT), Medicaid Qualified Annuities, and the child caretaker exception to the prohibition against transferring a residence. A new option for those in need of immediate care includes being able to sell an existing life insurance policy for a percentage of the death benefit.
The right asset protection for you and your family depends on your circumstances. In order to be fully aware of your options, and to avoid any mistakes in carrying out asset transfers, you should consult an Ohio elder law attorney with extensive experience in protecting assets from Medicaid.
Remember, the government is trying to prevent fraud with the Medicaid look-back period, not to impoverish your family. You have every right to take advantage of the opportunities Ohio and federal law offer to protect them and the assets you worked hard to provide for them.
The truth is, it's never too soon to begin planning. If you start early, you or your loved one may qualify for long-term care insurance, which can help cover rising nursing home costs. But even if a loved one is already in a nursing home, it's not too late to plan. The options available may diminish the longer you wait, but there are almost always options for preserving assets.
If you are interested in learning more about protecting yourself and your family from rising nursing home costs, we invite you to contact Gudorf Law Group online or call 1-937-898-5583 today for a free consultation.