Massive nursing home costs call for plan for Medicaid assistance

Generally, Medicaid is available in Texas to pay for an extended nursing home stay. However, the applicant for assistance must meet certain requirements, making it prudent to plan for Medicaid assistance in advance. The individual or married couple can facilitate that process by seeking the services of an attorney experienced in the practice of elder law.

Where one spouse enters a nursing home and incurs bills, the institution may sue the other spouse for those bills if no other mechanism for payment is in place. Generally, the spouse can keep the home in which she or he resides, a car and certain specified assets. There may be other programs allowed by law to convert assets or savings into retirement vehicles that qualify under IRS and Medicaid rules.

Reverse mortgages may also be taken out to help pay for nursing home costs. Although the average monthly cost nationwide of a semiprivate nursing home is $6,844, most people have done little or nothing to prepare for such an expense. If action is taken early enough, long-term care insurance is another option that may carry the bulk of a nursing home burden later in one's life.

When long-term care insurance is no longer feasible, an elder law attorney may be consulted to discuss whether a plan for Medicaid assistance will be workable. With all the uncertainty currently surrounding the availability, amounts and qualifications for Medicaid in future years, it is highly prudent for an individual or married couple to review retirement planning to account for potential nursing home or other institutional costs. An elder law attorney can go over the total family situation, evaluate the options that may be feasible and propose a suitable plan. In Texas and elsewhere, engaging in that process as early as possible is highly advantageous.

Source: startribune.com, "Plan for possible long-term care needs", Janet Kidd Stewart, June 24, 2017

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