As you get older, how you pay for your living expenses, as well as any care you may require, becomes more of a pressing issue. If you are a senior without a plan in place, you may react like many and begin spending your assets, in order to pay for the living environment and care that you require.
Rather than leaving your life’s work to friends and loved ones, you may find yourself forced to spend it on a long-term care facility, where you may be spending the remainder of your life.
This is the unfortunate reality that many seniors face, and it is avoidable. Through proper planning with your elder law attorney, you may be able to engage in Medicaid planning, which will help you meet the minimum qualifications.
Medicaid is a federal-state program that provides medical assistance to low-income individuals, including seniors ages 65 and older. For those paying for nursing home bills, it has become the largest payor in the United States, as well a final resort for those who have run out of ways to pay for long-term care.
Through Medicaid planning, you and your elder law attorney can make your income and assets inaccessible, so you can qualify for the program. These strategies allow you to shelter countable assets and preserve them for your beneficiaries, as well as provide for your healthy spouse through annuity.
While each state has different rules and regulations regarding Medicaid, one state in particular, Washington, has taken it upon itself to help pay for long-term care costs for its senior citizens.
According to KOMO News and The Associated Press, the Washington state House of Representatives has approved changes that the state Senate made on a bill regarding the implementation of a program to help pay for long-term care costs. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has promised to sign it, according to Forbes.
Under the new program, a qualified individual would be provided up to $36,500 to pay for a range of long-term support, such as a nursing home, an assisted living facility, home modifications, or personal care aides, among other eligible services.
These funds are created through a 0.58 percent tax on employee wages in the state of Washington starting in 2022.
The program has numerous detailed qualifications for participants. Eligibility requires that the participant is in need of assistance with at least three activities of daily living, as defined by the state of Washington.
Participants in the plan also must work and pay the premium/payroll tax for at least 10 years, with at least five uninterrupted, or three of the last six years. This would make most current retirees ineligible for the program.
The program will reimburse private insurance providers directly and would allow for the paying of family caregivers. However, they would have to go through a specified training program, the benefits of that would be available starting in 2025.
This program will be the first of its kind. However, many states have attempted similar programs, while others have attempted to pass similar legislation to no avail. Hawaii has provided a public cash benefit for family caregivers of elderly adults in poor physical health, but it is not an insurance program. Minnesota has proposed two alternative financing options for long-term care, while Michigan and Illinois are studying public programs for those not a part of Medicaid. Maine voters also rejected a public plan last year to help fund home care.
Paying for long-term care elsewhere
While this program may provide relief for seniors who will be retirees in the state of Washington, its eligibility requirements make it nearly impossible for those who already have retired and seek financial assistance for their long-term care.
In addition, because this does not apply to seniors outside of the state of Washington, Medicaid remains the only viable option for preserving your assets, while paying for long-term care costs everywhere else in the United States.
Having an elder law attorney, like the ones at TuckerAllen, is essential in planning for Medicaid and creating the necessary financial and legal shelters to protect your assets and qualify for the program.