In our last post, we began speaking about a number a steps one can take to avoid a situation where long-term care expenses get out of hand and leave a family financially overwhelmed. We already mentioned the importance of taking time to sign an elderly parent up for Medicaid and Medicare, as well as obtaining a durable power of attorney.
Long-term care insurance is worth looking into for those who are healthy enough to qualify. Many companies offer group long-term care insurance as a benefit. Even a basic policy can help save a significant amount of money. One important point to remember about these policies is that the nursing facility caring for the parent will not bill the long-term care insurance company. Rather, family must file a claim and then pay the facility.
It is wise to avoid having joint accounts with a parent. Doing so could throw off their ability to qualify for Medicaid and Medicare, and put the joint owner in a financially precarious position. It is better, for a family member helping pay the bills, to deposit funds into their accounts and pay them through the account.
One thing many families don't fully understand when committing an elderly parent to a facility is that bills are a shared cost. This doesn't necessarily mean family must pay for the parent's care, but that they must at least manage it. Keeping close contact with the facility's business office can be helpful in clarifying questions and managing payment options.
The most important thing of all is to plan ahead. As part of that planning, it is good to expect additional expenses. There are a number of approaches to doing so. Working with an attorney and a financial planner can make this process much easier.
Source: Forbes, "Avoid a $93,000 Bill For Your Dad's Long-Term Care," Nancy Anderson, July 26, 2012