Imagine your parent or spouse has had a fall or a stroke and is hospitalized. Usually, the following days and weeks are spent getting him or her stable, talking to family and doctors, and wrapping your mind around the incident that happened. It can be a shocking and overwhelming time. Often, these events are the beginning of a major life shift where the family has to come to terms with a loved one’s changing needs and abilities. Where will he live? Who will take care of him? Do we have the right documents in place or do we need to go to court for assistance? And who’s going to pay for everything?
From the hospital, the patient will frequently be discharged for rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility. The goal of rehabilitation is to improve the patient’s abilities, and he or she will stay for only a limited period. Insurance and Medicare will cover some (sometimes all) of the cost for a stint in rehabilitation. This is the point when the patient’s unpaid family caregivers are scrambling to figure out what comes next. The writing may be on the wall: It may be clear that your loved one can’t go home without significant help and may need to move into assisted living or nursing care. And this is also the time to explore Medicaid eligibility, if you haven’t already.
Introduction to Medicaid
Private pay for facility care or at-home care is quite costly. Adult day care averages around $20,000 a year, and a private room in a nursing home can be over $100,000 a year. Aside from the private-pay option, veterans’ benefits or long-term care insurance kicking in, this is where Medicaid health coverage begins for many people in America.
If you’re not familiar with how Medicaid works and haven’t applied for it before, it can add to your caregiving stress to try to figure it out without assistance. Be wary of taking nonprofessionals’ advice as truth. Get the facts for yourself.