One of the questions we hear most from our clients is: “What happens when the money runs out to pay for care?” This is a common concern and an important question to consider when choosing a care setting for your loved one.
Explore Affordable Options
The first thing we look at when a senior is running out of assets or has limited assets to supplement monthly care costs is: are there care options that will work within the senior’s monthly income? Often there are more affordable care settings that will only require minimal supplementation from savings if assets are limited, or that won’t require any supplementation from savings if assets have been expended . If there are potential care settings that can meet seniors’ level of care and work within their monthly income, seniors can often avoid having to pursue government programs to help pay for care and the barriers that come along with those programs (i.e. limited options, long wait times etc.).
Look into Supplemental Funding Programs
If we determine that a client’s income is simply not sufficient to cover the cost of his/her care in a residential care setting, it may be necessary to pursue supplemental funding or programs that might be available to the senior. Unfortunately, in the state of California we have limited supplemental funding and programs, and since access to these programs can be a challenge, planning ahead is crucial visit here.
Apply for Veterans Benefits
One such supplemental source of funding is the Aid and Attendance benefit through the Veteran’s Administration (www.benefits.va.gov). This is a special pension reserved for wartime veterans and their spouses or widows who are in need of care. If a veteran or his/her spouse or widow meets the various eligibility criteria, they may be approved to receive a monthly pension to help pay for their care, either in the home or in a licensed care facility. The average turnaround time once an application has been submitted for this benefit is around 4 to 6 months, so planning ahead and applying for this benefit before the funds run out can help to avoid a move.
Apply for Medi-Cal
Aside from Veteran’s benefits, the main resource that will help to pay for one’s care when assets are exhausted is Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program that acts as both an insurance plan to help cover medical costs, as well as a payor source for long-term care, when a Medi-Cal beneficiary meets the medically necessary criteria for long-term care coverage. Medi-Cal will cover both home and community-based services (i.e. In-Home Support Services, Adult Day Health Care, Assisted Living Waiver Program, and other programs: http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/Pages/Medi-CalWaiversList.aspx) and long-term care in a skilled nursing facility. There are both income and asset criteria one must meet to qualify for Medi-Cal. To learn more about the eligibility criteria for Medi-Cal and when it will be best to apply for Medi-Cal benefits, you should reach out to the Department of Human Assistance in your county of residence for more information (http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/Pages/CountyOffices.aspx). If you are wanting more assistance than the county will offer, there are specialists who can assist you with applying for a fee. Keep in mind that Medi-Cal approval can take 30 to 45 days on average and then, once approved, getting programs and services in place under Medi-Cal or locating a long-term Medi-Cal bed in a skilled nursing facility will take time, so timing can be a challenge once someone needs to rely on Medi-Cal to help pay for care.
Know Your Options and Plan Ahead
Senior care is expensive, and it is only becoming more so as we see minimum wage increases and labor law changes that will ultimately continue to drive up the costs in senior care facilities. Therefore, it is more imperative than ever that families take into consideration the bigger picture when trying to find an appropriate care setting for themselves or a loved one. Our Family Consultants at Senior Care Solutions understand that for many families, finances are finite, so we aim to provide you with the information and resources you need to make educated decisions when it comes to senior care. Our goal is to help our clients understand that bigger picture, so you can do your best to extend the assets as long as possible and so you are set up for more success, if/when the money runs out to pay for care.
Make the Connection Today!
Simply complete an online inquiry or call Senior Care Solutions (916) 965-5565 to make a connection with one of our Family Consultants. We look forward to hearing from you!
Written by Lauren Firenze, GCM