You undoubtedly know that it is important to plan for retirement in order to ensure that sufficient assets are available to live comfortably during your “Golden Years.” Hopefully, you also realize how important it is to plan for the high cost of nursing home care as well. The reality is that the average person cannot afford to pay for nursing home care out of pocket and cannot expect to get help from private insurance nor Medicare. The critical question then become “Can you get help with nursing home costs in New Hampshire and, if so, from where?”
Will You Need Nursing Home Care?
We all wish we knew the answer to that question ahead of time. While you undoubtedly hope you won’t need long-term care (LTC) when you are older, your odds of eventually needing LTC increase with each passing year. When you reach retirement age (age 65), your odds of eventually spending time in a nursing home are about 50-50. If you are still here at age 85, those odds will have increased to about 75-25. If you are married, your spouse shares those odds with you, thereby increasing the likelihood that you will one day be faced with the need to pay for LTC. Given the odds that one of you will eventually need nursing home care, the old adage “Hope for the best but plan for the worst” seems applicable.
Nursing Home Costs in New Hampshire
Most people realize that LTC costs are not cheap; however, few people know exactly how expensive nursing home care can be. Nationwide, the average monthly cost of LTC was over $6,000 per month for 2016. While that figure should be enough to grab your attention, the average cost of nursing home care in New Hampshire should do more than just grab your attention. For 2016, the average cost of a month in a nursing home in New Hampshire was about $10,000. Furthermore, the average length of stay in LTC runs 2.5 years. As such, you can expect to spend about $300,000 for the average stay in a nursing home in New Hampshire!
Why Is It So Difficult to Find Help with Nursing Home Costs in New Hampshire?
Throughout the course of your working years, you probably became accustomed to depending on your private, or employer sponsored, health insurance coverage to pay your medical bills. Unfortunately, this probably will not work when it comes to LTC bills because most basic health insurance policies do not cover LTC unless the insured purchased a separate PTC rider at an additional expense. What about Medicare? Once you reach your retirement years you will qualify for Medicare right? Won’t Medicare cover LTC expenses? To the shock of many seniors, Medicare does not cover nursing home expenses either.
Where Can I Get Help with Nursing Home Costs?
Fortunately, there is help available for the high cost of nursing home care in New Hampshire through the Medicaid program. The problem, however, is that qualifying for Medicaid can put your assets at risk if you failed to plan ahead. How can qualifying for assistance with healthcare expenses put your assets at risk, you may be wondering? The answer is by requiring you to “spend-down” your excess assets. Medicaid imposes both income and asset limits for applicants. If your non-exempt assets exceed the limit you will have a waiting period imposed by Medicaid. During the waiting period, Medicaid will expect you to “spend-down” those assets. In effect, this means you are supposed to liquidate your excess assets and use the proceeds to cover your nursing home expenses. Transferring those assets out of your name prior to applying isn’t a solution because Medicaid also uses a five-year “look-back” rule that allows the program to review your finances for the five-year period leading up to your application. Any asset transfers for less than market value during that time period will be discounted and the value of the asset added back into your estate for the purpose of determining your eligibility for Medicaid benefits.
While all of that may sound discouraging, there is a solution if you plan ahead. By incorporating Medicaid planning into your estate plan early enough, you can protect your assets and ensure that you will qualify for help from Medicaid when the time comes that you need it.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding New Hampshire nursing home costs or Medicaid planning, contact the experienced New Hampshire Medicaid planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.