Estate Planning

Long-Term Care Reality Check

Long-Term Care Reality Check by James Leonick

Why is long-term care important?

As we age, certain tasks — like opening child-proof bottles — get more difficult. When disability becomes so great that we can no longer perform the basic activities of daily living (ADL), long-term care is needed. ADLs include:

  • Getting dressed in the morning;
  • Cooking meals;
  • Getting washed;
  • Cleaning the living space; and
  • Transitioning from bed to walker or wheelchair.

There are various types of long-term care that any of us could need in the future. That could involve having to bring in a home health-care aide, transitioning to a home from an assisted living facility, or perhaps residing in a nursing home. Most people are not aware that these expenses are not covered by Medicare or their secondary medical insurance coverage. 

Medicare and secondary insurance coverage will typically pay for 100 days of care that might involve a short hospital stay and then some time in a rehabilitation center or a nursing home that offers rehabilitative care. About two weeks before those 100 days are exhausted, the nursing home tells you, “This is your discharge date, whether you’re ready or not because after that you’d have to pay privately.”

This comes as a shock to most people because they assume that Medicare covers long-term care, especially if they had a prior hospitalization that brought on a health event. They anticipate that it’s a medical issue and therefore their medical coverage pays for it. In reality, medical coverage and long-term care are not the same thing.

In order to plan for long-term care, it’s important to meet with an attorney to discuss your health status and the immediacy for long-term care. In other words, how soon is it likely that you might need long-term care?

When I meet with a client to discuss legal planning for long-term care, we discuss their assets, their liabilities, their income, and their family situation. Some folks have ongoing chronic problems such as COPD, diabetes, heart ailments, etc., and the more of these health problems that you have, the more likely it is that you will need long-term care in the future. For those that are healthy and don’t have any chronic problems, they can look into long-term care insurance policies. The rates on those are different based upon your health status, your age, and the amount of coverage that you’re purchasing.

All of this is done in order to develop a plan that incorporates estate planning, as well as protecting their assets at the same time. For a free consultation, contact me.

James F. Leonick

James F. Leonick
Leonick Law, P.L.L.C.
TEL: (631) 486-9500


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