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Medicaid Under the Microscope

Under the microscopeLest we forget: Obamacare was used to expand health care coverage for millions of Americans via Medicaid expansion.

Many people think of Medicaid is a government program that helps only the nation’s poor. However, Medicaid also helps pay for and is part of estate planning strategies for nursing home care and other forms of long-term care.

Long-term care in the U.S. is extraordinarily expensive: the median annual cost of a private room in a nursing home is more than $92,000. A shared room costs more than $82,000. Expect these prices to continue to increase, since costs have risen by 19% since 2011. Similarly, the median price for care in an assisted living facility exceeds $43,500 and those seniors who want to stay at home with the help of an in-home aide from a home care agency pay $20 an hour or $175,000 a year for round-the-clock care.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 70% of people turning age 65 can anticipate needing some form of long-term care during their lives. It’s also important to know that long-term care isn’t usually paid for by Medicare, the government program that covers seniors, or by private health insurance policies.

Many Americans are just not financially able to pay on their own for nursing homes and other types of assistance when they are elderly. About half of households age 55 and older have no retirement savings, such as a 401(k) plan or an IRA.

Many people believe that Medicaid just covers poor people, but in fact, 28% of its overall budget is earmarked for long-term care. That money is critical to seniors and to their nursing home care. In 2014, Medicaid paid for 62% of nursing home residents. It is also covering assisted living and in-home care, which many elderly people prefer.

Republican proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare highlighted significant cuts to Medicaid that would have affected seniors receiving long-term care. If a repeal does occur, many elderly will be prohibited from receiving needed care and will have to ask family members for support.  Older adults now receive $470 billion worth of unpaid care each year, and without Medicaid, the elderly may need to ask even more of their relatives. Providing care full-time for someone who is physically disabled or has dementia, can be emotionally exhausting and can lead to mental and physical health problems for the caregiver, create fighting within families, and be financially draining, particularly when it impacts the caregiver’s ability to work outside the home.

These problems will get worse. In 2015, 14.9% of the population (47.8 million people) were 65 and over, but the number of seniors is projected to expand to almost 73 million by 2030 and represent more than 20% of the total U.S. population.

Reference: WTOP (DC) (August 9, 2017) “Why Medicaid matters to you”

 

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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
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Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Coronavirus/Covid-19
Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.