Cost of Long-Term Care in North Carolina
An earlier post by our elder law attorneys in Chapel Hill provided an overview of the current cost of nursing home, assisted living, and in-home care. A report released earlier this year shows that North Carolina nursing home costs continue to increase alongside the premiums for long-term care (‘LTC”) insurance policies.
According to the report, the median cost for a private nursing home room in North Carolina is approximately $225.00 per day in 2015. This adds up to a staggering $81,000 per year. The median household income in North Carolina is just $46,334, according to 2009-2013 U.S. Census Bureau data. Adult children and other relatives face financial challenges if aging parents have not planned properly for care costs. Although there is a growing trend in seniors choosing to bypassing nursing homes and opt instead for at-home care, home care services still amount to a median cost of $144.00 per day, or more than $52,000 annually. (This figure reflects eight hours of daily care. The cost would be greater if the senior required extended care.) These costs still exceed the median household income in our state.
Advance planning is key. Delaying long-term care insurance
coverage could lead to ineligibility for some applicants. Age is a critical factor when LTC insurance companies assess risk. Insurance premiums rise significantly as applicants approach senior years, and many individuals over the age of 80 discover that most insurance companies will deny them coverage. Individuals should be open to the idea that the optimum time to purchase LTC insurance may be more than 30 years before they ever anticipate requiring benefits. Although a few decades of insurance premium expenses might amount to more than $45,000 collectively—depending on the individual—the insurance could cover nearly all of the policy holder’s care costs later in life, relieving loved ones from the burden of paying for those costs.
Individuals should review every possible source of benefits available to them. Those who served in the military may benefit from Community Nursing Homes, centers contracted by the government that offer veterans full-time residential living with 24/7 nursing care. The VA Medical Benefits Package includes a number of helpful services that also cover in-home care. As recently discussed in the New York Times, “The Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension benefit…can cover the costs of caregivers in the home (including sons and daughters who are paid to be caregivers, though not spouses) or be used for assisted living or a nursing home. The benefit is not insignificant: up to $2,019 monthly for a veteran and spouse, and up to $1,094 for the widow of a veteran.” Other possibilities remain for all individuals, even if they were unable to plan far in advance. Those who are age 65 or older might be eligible for Medicare. Individuals younger than 65 might be eligible if they have certain disabilities.
As the costs for care rise, the price one ultimately plays for delaying an elder care plan rises as well. Planning far enough in advance can ensure eligibility for LTC insurance, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and engage the many resources available.
By Attorney Katie Muhlenkamp