UNITED STATES—Morning, Toni: I read your recent article about the cost of nursing homes nationwide and I am concerned that I may wipeout my 401K or savings if a long-term care need arises.

I am a 68-year-old retiree with a wife turning 65 in January. My 88-year-old mother has been living in an assisted living facility with Alzheimer’s for 3 years, costing me and my siblings $8,500 each month. Her health is good, but my mother’s mind is slipping, and this situation could continue for years.

Can you please explain various long-term care options that we can apply for to help with LTC needs? Thanks, Paul from Nashville, TN.

Paul: Baby Boomers are concerned about a prolonged illness or chronic condition being one of their biggest retirement expenses if not planned properly.

Medicare pays for a maximum of 100 days of skilled nursing care before retirees must absorb the remaining cost themselves, and you are seeing your mother’s nursing home care of $8,500 per month for the last 3 years with no end in sight.

Because Medicare is controlling healthcare costs, most Medicare beneficiaries are receiving $0 co-pays for days 1-20 in a skilled nursing event and over $185 for days 21 to 100. But one must be improving to stay in the facility.

A long-term care or chronic illness conditions can be very costly with the average annual cost ranges from $65,000 to $90,000 per year for semi-private nursing home stay to $84,000 to $96,000 per year for private nursing home stay.

However, depending on the level of assistance that you need, there are inexpensive care options and ways to protect yourself from excessive long-term care costs.

Below are a few options for additional ways to find affordable long-term care or email info@tonisays.com for more information:

1)       Traditional Long-Term Care: Many purchase a Long-Term care policy. The younger you are when you purchase a long-term care policy, the lower the premiums will be. Seek Long Term Care while you are younger and in good health…

2)       Hybrid Life and Annuity Policies: Many life/annuity insurance policies have a provision if you need Long Term Care; you can receive a certain amount of Long-Term Care with your life/annuity policy’s face amount.

3)       Aid and Attendance benefits: The VA can help Veterans with Long Term Care issues.  There is over $20 billion available for long term care pension money just waiting for Veterans to apply for their Aid and Attendance benefits.  You need to have a Long-Term Care issue to qualify. (Recently, I had my own mother qualified for this benefit and an at home care aid is assisting in my own mother’s daily care so I, Toni, can help America understand Medicare. Thank You VA for this great service for our Veterans and spouses)

4)       Medicaid: Check to see if you can qualify for Medicaid. One must “spend down” to qualify. And do not forget the 5-year income/asset look back period and “MERP” the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program.  Where the amount of money the state spends for healthcare can place a lien on the individual’s estate for healthcare, at home aid or nursing home care paid for by the state.

5)       New Short-Term Home Health Care: Assists with paying for at home care for a maximum of a year. Allowing one to not drain their savings or 401K for an at home recovery.

If you have any Long-Term Care or Medicare questions, please feel free to reach out to Toni and the Toni Says® Medicare team at 832-519-8664 or send an email to info@tonisays.com.

Medicare Open Enrollment Special: $10 discount to the Toni Says® readers on the 2021Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book at www.tonisays.com.