Over time, family members of aging loved ones may realize the best place for seniors to receive quality care, attention and support is in an assisted living community. This is not an easy decision to make, and often comes after several heart-to-heart conversations. Once the choice has been finalized, families have to think about how they will pay for these services. Here are some tips for affording an assisted living community for your loved one:
Don't count on Medicare
The Medicare system aims to provide health insurance to Americans 65 years and older who have worked – and paid – for the benefit through their payroll taxes over the years. While the coverage is helpful in a number of ways, it doesn't cover long-term care, sometimes considered room and board in an assisted living or nursing community.
Instead of relying on Medicare – and being sorely disappointed when you learn its stipulations – family members and their aging loved ones should look into long-term care insurance. These policies can help pay for the healthcare needs seniors may encounter as they grow older. Just be sure to read through the specifics of the coverage you're interested in purchasing and ask all questions before you sign on the dotted line.
"The VA will cover part of the cost of assisted living for veterans and their spouses."
Read up on veteran assistance
If seniors served in the military or were married to a former servicemember, they may be eligible for care under the Non-Service Connected Improved Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance program. Through this coverage, the Department of Veterans Affairs will pay for assisted living expenses for veterans and their spouses – as long as servicemembers participated for at least 90 days on active duty and one day during wartime, according to VeteranAid.
Currently, this program covers the following, according to Bankrate:
- $2,085 a month for married vets.
- $1,759 for single servicemembers.
- $1,130 for surviving spouses.
Pay out of pocket
As you search for the right assisted living community for your loved ones, it's important to keep your budget in mind. Those communities that don't meet this criteria can easily be removed from your list of choices. According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, long-term care – of which assisted living is included – was the No. 1 reason for out-of-pocket spending.
Paying for health care needs is a smart reason to be so cognizant about saving both before and after retirement. As a result, some seniors may have accounts dedicated to paying for assisted living or nursing communities when they need them. Otherwise, family members can join together to split the cost out of pocket, according to The Balance.
Look into Medicaid
Although Medicare won't provide much assistance in paying for an assisted living community for your loved ones, Medicaid may be able to help – if seniors meet certain qualifications.
Each state's requirements are different – although many require aging loved ones to have assets and income below the federal poverty level. Family members should get into contact with state Medicaid offices to get the specifics and check with assisted living communities to see if they accept the benefit and have a bed available for these guests. In most cases, you will have to pay out of pocket for these expenses on a month-to-month basis. The nursing community will then bill Medicaid for the remainder of the cost.
The decision to move a senior to an assisted living community is a difficult one, as is deciding how to pay for the care. Families do have options to cover these expenses, but advanced planning is necessary to take advantage of as much assistance as possible.