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Paying for Assisted Living

Aug 31, 2016

Paying for Assisted Living

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With the move to assisted living, seniors and their families can start by considering all of the costs and ways they can cover this care type. Considering that everyone's financial background and care needs are different, understanding what services will be used most often will guide you to finding the best decision for you or a loved one. Seniors who need pretty regular assistance will likely find that assisted living communities are a good fit. This care option provides the peace of mind that a loved one is safe and well taken care of while allowing them to maintain much of their independence.

Budgeting Accordingly

It’s important to have a budget in place when looking into an assisted living community. Senior living residents and their families generally pay the cost of service using private financial resources. Depending on the nature of you or your loved one's health insurance program or senior living care insurance policy, some costs may be reimbursable. By discussing what you or your loved one is willing to spend, you can start to develop a price range to guide your search. Laying out your budget will be a good first step to help determine where financial blind spots may exist so you can plan accordingly.

Considering Your Financial Options

Medicare

Neither Medicare Part A or B offers coverage for comprehensive ongoing long-term care. Medicare A (hospital insurance) may cover costs for a semi-private room, meals, nursing and rehab services, medications, and medical supplies in a skilled nursing facility for the first 100 days after being released from hospitalization for an acute illness or injury. The first 20 days are covered at 80 percent, with the rest of that time period covered at decreasing rates. It never covers a private room or services in an assisted living residence. Medicare B only offers reimbursement for covered services you receive from a doctor. Additionally, Medicare Part D may also be useful in covering prescription drug costs. 

Ask Medicare is designed to support and assist caregivers. It offers a wide range of helpful information for the nearly 66 million Americans who provide help to an aging, seriously ill, or disabled family member or friend. Ask Medicare provides tools to caregivers and those they care for to help make informed health decisions.

Medicaid

Medicaid, which provides federal health-care assistance to low-income Americans, is the biggest payer for room & board, skilled nursing care, and social activities in nursing homes. Many states now cover some assisted living services under their Medicaid programs, however, these fluctuate widely in terms of eligibility requirements, and dollar amounts of coverage. The Senior Assisted Housing Waiver provides eligible low-income adults a choice of receiving senior living care services in a community-based setting rather than in a nursing facility. Bear in mind that faced with budget deficits for years to come, states are more likely to cut, rather than expand, these programs.

Housing and Veterans Subsidies

Seniors with annual incomes under $12,000 may qualify for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 202 and Section 8 senior housing, which provide rent subsidies that can help pay for the room-and-board portion of both independent living and assisted living environments. The Department of Veterans Affairs also provides some skilled and intermediate-level care to veterans in its own residences, depending on space availability.

Private Loans

It’s also possible to take out a private loan to help cover some of the expenses your insurance might not take care of. Depending on your credit score, and a few other factors, a loan from the bank is also an option. Search for things like a 'senior living line of credit' to find out whether you're eligible for receiving up to $50,000 of unsecured credit. This money can be paid to communities directly and provide a very reasonable approach to covering the cost of care... as long as you make your payments on time! 

Understanding Your Living Expenses

One of the nice things about assisted living is that many of the bills that plagued you or your loved one over the years are now combined into one easy rental payment. Although most of the main features seniors take advantage of in assisted living are part of the package, keep in mind that more advanced medical attention and procedures may come at an additional fee. If your loved one requires memory care or other services to maintain their health, hiring a personal caregiver or specialist can cost extra, but may be covered by certain insurance programs. Generally speaking, assisted living will include:

  • Utilities: Electricity, water, and trash bills are almost always covered, so it will likely be included in your monthly rate.
  • Maintenance: No more worrying about paying a plumber to fix that leaky faucet, or getting new windows before winter. In most cases, maintenance costs are usually included in the monthly rent.
  • Meals: Two or three hot meals a day are usually included. With food taking up one-third of all expenses, it’s nice to know you or a loved one will have consistently nutritious meals. 
  • Personal Care: Many assisted living communities will also offer medical staff that can help administer medication as well as assist with any other health concerns that may arise.
  • Transportation: Scheduled and personalized transportation services are available so seniors can always get from A to B safely. 
  • Social and Community Events: Entertainment and ways to socialize can keep seniors social and engaged!

Considering that most of the costs of daily care will be included in each rent payment, assisted living is a very financially stable option for seniors and their families. Even if a resident doesn't utilize all of the services provided, it's nice to know that they are available at any time or in the case of an emergency.

Be sure to get a detailed breakdown of what expenses will be included in the total price. There’s nothing worse than getting surprised by some hidden fees later on!

If you're more than prepared to cover the costs of assisted living, this senior care option can be a perfect fit for many families and their loved ones. Make sure to visit a prospective community and see whether this assisted living is right for you by using our assisted living checklist

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between home care and an assisted living facility?

There are several differences between home care and assisted living. Home care means hiring a trained professional to provide care right in your home, while assisted living involves moving to a community to receive similar care. The amount of assistance that home care provides depends on your senior's needs and can be tailored accordingly. Home care can range anywhere from weekly companionship and therapy to 24-hour skilled nursing care or even hospice. In contrast, assisted living provides seniors with an enriching community of their peers and medical attention as needed, making it a flexible option for many. 

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What is the difference between assisted living and other senior care facilities?

An assisted living facility is a residential facility designed to house multiple seniors in a home-like environment. Those residing in assisted living receive personal care, meal services, transportation services, housekeeping services, around the clock staff supervision and assistance with other daily activities. Assisted living residents do not necessarily receive skilled nursing care which is generally more medically intensive. However, medication management is offered by certified medical staff. If you or your loved one needs more advanced attention, skilled nursing homes or even home care may be more appropriate options. 

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