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"How to get Medi-Cal coverage for your nursing home care... without selling your home or leaving your family without a dime... Surprising ways to pay for your assisted living and long term care costs."

Elder Law Today Newsletter | Vol. 26 | April, 2008


How to Save $72,000 in One Year in Nursing Home Costs - And the First U.S. Marine on Guadalcanal

$200 PER DAY. The cost of skilled nursing care is expensive. $200 per day for a skilled nursing facility is on the low side, with $240 per day being more the average. At $200 per day, the cost for a 30 day month would be $6,000. For 12 months, the cost would be $72,000.

We receive many calls from the children of elderly parents. The children tell us that one or both of their parents is in a skilled nursing facility, and that their parents are rapidly running out of assets to pay for their care. They also tell us that they don’t think their parents would be eligible for Medi-Cal, because they own a home and have too much in the way of assets, such as retirement accounts. In several instances, the parents have been taking money out of their homes, through second deeds of trust and lines of credit to pay for their nursing home costs.

The first thing we mention is that for Medi-Cal eligibility, the home of any value is still an exempt asset. We then look at available methods for protecting the home from a Medi-Cal lien after the passing of the nursing home patient. In addition, we let them know that retirement accounts, such as IRA’s in any amounts, are exempt from qualification for Medi-Cal, provided that minimum required distributions are being made. We also mention to them that for non- retirement liquid assets, a couple can retain up to $104,000 between them and still be eligibile for Medi-Cal. An unmarried individual can retain up to $2,000.

As a result, it may be advisable for the children to seek the advise of an elder law attorney to help the parents qualify for Medi-Cal and to help them preserve perhaps $72,000 in one year in nursing home costs.

The First U.S. Marine on Gudalcanal: The stories in the ELT newsletters are printed with
permission of our clients, and sometimes poetic license is used in the stories. I asked my 87 year old ex-Marine client to tell me something about his war experiences. As it turns out, he was in the 1st Marine Division, which landed on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. He told me that he was the first Marine ashore from the first landing craft that hit the beach. The reason for him being first, (other than being a good ‘gung ho’ Marine I suspect), is that he was a scout whose job it was to run into the jungle on the island, through enemy fire and through friendly fire, hope to survive, gather intelligence as to the location of the enemy, and then bring that information back to the Marine camp. He said that during the time he was on the island, he was shot at, shot, was blown several yards from the concussion of a bomb, was hit by shrapnel, and contracted malaria. He has a “Purple Heart” medal for his efforts. This is a true American hero, who was my father.

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