As the population ages, everyone should make a plan to obtain care in case of a disabling injury or illness.
Unfortunately, options are both limited and expensive.
Family, can provide long-term care in the home up to a point, but the care can often require more skill or time than loved ones can offer. In that case, it is time for professional help. This professional, in-home care can cost between $17 and $20 per hour. But that’s nothing compared to the $6,500 monthly cost of the average long-term care facility, according to the experts at Jackson White, attorneys specializing in elder law.
Medicare may cover some short-term nursing home care, but not long-term care. Unfortunately, only healthy people can get long-term care insurance and almost no one can pay for such care out of pocket for long.
The Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) can provide the necessary safety net as part of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS).
That means people hope for the best as they fall into the safety net or plan now to ease the impact, said White.
Richard White, of Jackson White, recently spoke in Payson about ALTCS; and he and others from his firm will participate in this Saturday’s Business Showcase as well.
Through ALTCS and AHCCCS Arizona residents that meet the medical and financial requirements of the program can get home care, assisted living care, group home and nursing center care, durable medical equipment, housekeeping, day care and personal care workers.
The medical requirements vary and the complex financial rules can depend on marital status and other factors.
A single participant must not have monthly income exceeding $2,130 or “countable” assets in excess of $2,000.
A married participant also can’t have income of more than $2,130. The “well spouse” can also have an additional monthly income of up to $1,862. White said the “countable” assets of a married couple can be between $23,184 and $115,900 due to ALTCS rules that try to make sure that the healthy spouse doesn’t end up in poverty.
A booklet on ALTCS prepared by Jackson White, outlines what are countable assets and those that are exempt. The “exempt” list is quite a bit shorter than the “countable.”
Things on the exempt list include equity in the primary residence of up to $525,000; one vehicle with a value no more than $4,500; life insurance with a cash value of no more than $1,000; burial plots and irrevocable funeral plans; and miscellaneous items.
Countable assets include cash, checking and savings accounts; certificates of deposit; U.S. savings bonds; retirement accounts; nursing home accounts; revocable prepaid funeral contracts; trusts; real estate other than the primary residences; second cars; boats and recreational vehicles; stocks, bonds and mutual funds; and promissory notes.
Participants cannot have made financial gifts to their children within five years of an application to the program.
“Any gifted amount in the last five years will create an issue about eligibility,” White said.
VA benefits available to the participant can be coordinated with ALTCS assistance to pay for required care.
White said working with a qualified elder law attorney is the best way to navigate the process of making a plan to use the ALTCS and to address immediate needs if a plan is not in place.
Stop by the Business Showcase to collect materials from Jackson White, or go online to www.ArizonaSeniorLaw.com. To reach White call 800-243-1160.