BRACING FOR THE COST OF LONG-TERM CARE

       Jamie Burchette explains legal options.

       Jamie Burchette explains legal options.

Most people think that Medicare will help pay for assisted living or nursing home care should they ever need it.  It won’t.  Medicare never covers assisted living costs.  And, it provides very little coverage for nursing homes.  Medicaid pays for most of such care.  Let’s see how a clinic student handled a typical health law consultation about long-term care coverage.

“Rocky” and his family were referred to us by Novant Medical Center’s Memory Clinic.  He was recently diagnosed with mild dementia.  Rocky was fuzzy on some
details, but not about this:  he didn’t want to lose his modest home to the cost of care.  Rocky sought our help protecting his home—so his family will inherit it.

Cara Katrinak gathered facts about Rocky’s assets and income.  She asked about his financial transactions over the past five years, which is called the Medicaid “look-back” period.  She prepared a detailed analysis of his eligibility for financial assistance both in assisted living and for nursing home levels of care.  She reviewed Rocky’s power of attorney to ascertain if it was adequate for likely financial transactions. In addition, and most important for her client, she advised him and his family about strategies to protect the home from “estate recovery.”  This is where Medicaid gets reimbursed for every penny it has paid for someone’s care, and this often depletes the person’s estate.

Cara’s client and his family were relieved to learn where he stood and what steps to take next.  The challenges of a dementia diagnosis are hard enough without worrying about losing everything you own!

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