The cost of nursing homes is high and getting higher
One of the last expenses of our lives is also one of the biggest — nursing home costs. If you turned 65 years old today, happy birthday, and there is an almost 70 percent chance that you will need some form of long-term care services before you die. On average, men will need these services for 2.2 years, while women will need them for 3.7 years, but there is about a 20 percent chance that you will need it for more than five years.
In the case of nursing homes, there is a 35 percent chance that someone turning 65 years old will need to spend time in a nursing facility. And the costs are significant — according to an article in the New York Times, a national survey by insurance company Genworth found that the median annual cost of a semiprivate nursing home is more than $80,000, with a private room costing more than $90,000 a year, and is growing at over twice the rate of inflation.
How to pay for it
Some people choose to pay nursing home costs through long-term care insurance. But only about 20 percent of the public owns long-term care insurance, and only 14 companies are still selling it. And too many wait until the last minute to buy it — 45 percent of applicants age 70 or more were denied coverage in 2014.
The usual way to cope with the rising cost of a place in a nursing home is by taking advantage of Medicaid. But all Medicaid programs come with certain restrictions on income. There is a limit of $1,247.50 for basic care and $1,560.50 for a dementia-lockdown unit. However, this only includes Social Security, fixed pensions and other forms of fixed income. It does not include interest, dividends or payments out of an IRA or 401K.
If one member of a couple goes into a nursing home, the couple will be permitted to keep at least $1,991.25 a month of their combined incomes. This is called the minimum monthly maintenance allowance. Under the right circumstances, they may be able to keep more. An elder law lawyer can explain how.
Elder law lawyer in Gastonia
Many people who appear to be offering online advice on how to plan for nursing home costs will turn out to be trying to sell you some sort of financial product. It is a better idea to get advice from an elder law attorney, who makes no money from his or her own recommendations. Robert C. Whitt is a Gastonia attorney, servicing the areas of Gastonia, Charlotte, Mount Holly and Gaston, Mecklenburg, Lincoln Counties and surrounding communities. He focuses on wills, trusts and other aspects of elder law. Call and make an appointment today.