Many local residents discover the complexity that comes with determining long-term care needs as they work through the aging process with a loved one. Figuring out the best living situation and determining the effect that it will have on finances is one of the more stressful parts of New York elder law. For one thing, many families feel a bit of sticker shock when they learn of the often daunting cost of many long-term care facilities, like nursing homes. Yet many residents may not be doing all they can to lower the cost of that service according to an article published this weekend in the Wall Street Journal.
A wealth of information is now available to those exploring long-term care options that reveal the likely costs of nursing homes and at-home services. Armed with data about reasonable costs, consumers are much better positioned to take a proactive approach in bargaining for their needed care. Many nursing homes, for example, will charge wildly different rates even in areas near one another. By knowing the local averages and median rates, consumers can ask facilities directly about the potential for rate decreases. If a facility is charging more than the median rate there may be room for a discount.
Also, many facilities quote a base rate per month–often between $8,000-$12,000–and then tack on additional charges depending on the services required, like help with bathing, dressing, and similar needs. Some facilities may be willing to bargain on the costs of those added services. Negotiating those finer points is an important way for many families to save money. While a few hundred dollars a month may not seem like a make or break requirement at first glance, it means much more built up over a period of years. With many families unsure how long an elder relative’s money will last, small differences in price become very important.
Besides receiving the best rate possible for long-term care, before it even gets to that point it is also important for families to understand ways that they can protect an individual’s assets in these situations. Strategies exist to help a family navigate the Medicaid process so that assets can be protected from the high costs of long-term care. For example, if one does not have long-term care insurance a common alternative is the Medicaid Asset Protection Trust. This option involves naming someone other than the senior or their spouse as the trustee, is helpful to save assets like a family home, and usually has little effect on an individual’s lifestyle.
Area residents are best served when they take control of the elder care process. The best advice is always to be proactive in your efforts and first contact a New York elder law attorney to learn about insurance and trust options for long-term care. If a nursing home or at-home care service is ultimately needed, than consumers should remain poised to ask providers for bargains that might make the costs more manageable.
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