Most aging clients I meet with say that if they ever need to have someone take care of them, they’d prefer to stay at home as long as possible. For people in New Jersey, this wish poses major challenges. While there are scores of excellent companies that provide at-home companionship and certified home health aide services, there is very limited governmental support for those without means to pay.
Private in-home care can run $15 to $20 an hour, and live-in care can easily cost $5000 or $6,000 a month. Medicare and medical insurance won’t pay for day-to-day home health aide services at home. If your gross monthly income (such as Social Security and pension) exceeds $2,130 a month, there is presently no Medicaid program at all even if your savings are all gone. The federal government did approve an expansion of NJ’s Medicaid community care program (Global Options) as of 10/1/2012 to remove this “income cap” so higher-income people could apply, www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dmahs/
What’s a person to do? Careful planning can prevent a crisis. If you presently own your home and your non-health care costs are manageable on your income, retaining an ownership interest in the property may make all the difference, because that may give you access to your home equity when you need it most. Paying off debt as early as possible will free up cash to pay for care at home. Purchasing long-term care insurance in your 50’s or even early 60’s can make all the difference later. Downsizing to a more affordable home — without a lot of stairs! — can free up cash and provide a safer place to age-at-home.
As you can see, the planning is different depending on whether your income is “above or below the income cap.” Whatever you do, planning for a good old age means always looking ahead to put yourself in the best possible position.
Call us for advice on your long-term care planning needs …