Medicare is the primary form of health care insurance for anyone over age 65. As such, it pays the majority of the costs for doctor visits, laboratory tests and imaging, for California seniors. Different companies offer different options as Medicare providers. These benefits can provide specific, alternative or enhanced support not only for medical treatments but to help a recipient better afford co-payments, deductibles, and prescription medicines.

What you need to know, however, is that Medicare is an acute care solution. The Medicare system is not designed to pay for the serious costs that arise when we need long-term care solutions. For example, should your medical condition require an extended stay in a skilled nursing facility, there may be very little assistance, if any, available to you after the first 100 days of payment support.

The cost of long-term care is staggering. In the most recent Genworth study, it was shared that the average cost per month for skilled nursing home care is $7,600 per month for a semi-private room. Most of us cannot add this cost to our monthly budget and are facing a complete depletion of our savings without planning ahead.  The situation is not much better for those seniors who require some assistance, but not continuous 24 hour care, as the same report shares that assisted living costs are an average of $4,000 each month.

How will we protect ourselves and the seniors we love? Let us share three steps we recommend to our clients, advisors and friends.

1. The first step is to understand the limitations of the Medicare program and the assistance it provides to us. By recognizing the limitations of your particular plan you can get a baseline for the expenses you may need to cover for yourself or for your loved ones in the future.

2. The second step is to accept these limitations. When we accept that the funds we need may not be there, we then realize that we need to proactively plan ahead for a future that could include significant long-term care costs.

3. The third step is to start to plan. The fact that Medicare cannot help you in most instances does not mean there is nothing you can do. There are many solutions in California to pay for long-term care that a trusted estate planning and elder law attorney can show you.

Unfortunately, these limitations are not widely known or understood.  It is often not until they are facing a long-term care crisis that many seniors and their adult children first realize that Medicare will not pay for long-term care. Even if you have not taken the time to plan and find yourself at the end of your Medicare 100 days of support in a skilled facility, there are steps we can take to protect you and your family. Don’t wait to contact us to talk about what you need now to protect yourself and your family. 

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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an Orange County estate planning attorney and elder law attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community about trust and estate planning, veterans issues, and how to protect what matters most.

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