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Negotiating Long Term Care Service Fees in a Troubled Economy

There may well be a perverse silver lining in these difficult economic times. While everyone knows that we are certainly in a “buyer's market”, I was surprised to learn that this may even extend to the expenses associated with the services of some long term care providers. My exploration of this possibility began after reading a  recent article in SmartMoney, in which the author explained that with careful shopping some long term expenses may be negotiable.

While it is still true that most nursing homes will not negotiate fees, you may be able to negotiate with assisted-living facilities and home health care agencies.

As with anything, you start this process by first arming yourself with information. You can look up local costs at Genworth.com/costofcare on a map prepared by Genworth Financial, one of the country’s largest long-term care insurers. This can help you compare costs for various types of care in your area. MetLife offers another source of area-specific information at MatureMarketInstitute.com (click on “Research” then “2010 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs.”)

Other resources include “Medicare and Home Health Care” which describes the home health benefits that Medicare covers (available at Medicare.gov) and the United Hospital fund’s “Next Step in Care” website for family caregivers. 

Other bargaining strategies to keep in mind: 

  • Find out if there is a long list of people waiting to get in the facility.  Keep in mind that most waiting lists allow the person on the list to “pass” if they are not ready to move so be sure to inquire how long you might have to wait if you were on the bottom of the list.  With today’s slow real estate market, this waiting list may be made up of people who have not been able to sell their homes.  If the location you are interested in is the same one as the facilities I was able to check on, you may well have an ability to negotiate fees.
  • While I was able to verify that nursing homes generally do not discount their daily rate, I was told that nursing do negotiate the price they charged for some of the extra amenities they offer residents.
  • If a home-care agency has rates at the higher end of your local market, you may be able to get a lower rate if you let them know you are interviewing several agencies and taking cost into consideration.
  • If you hire a home-care agency for a significant number of weekday hours, that agency may be willing to discount any extra fees they charge for weekend work.

You can learn more long-term care options on the Elder Law Practice Area at our website. While you’re there, be sure to subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter.

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