US News Twitter Chat: How to Pay the High Cost of Long-Term Care

How to plan financially for care as you age.

Strategies for aspiring centenarians on how to stretch retirement savings over extra decades

"Becoming a caregiver for a loved one is more than a full-time job. There's no 5 p.m. whistle," Sharp Seniors' Jewel tweeted. Bos said that family caregivers provide 20 hours a week of care, on top of the hours they devote to their jobs, and that they also use their own money for groceries, household goods, prescription drugs and medical copayments.

RxWiki, a digital network of pharmacies, encouraged consumers to check with their employers to see whether they can work from home or quality for the Family and Medical Leave Act, which permits unpaid, job-protected leave.

[Suggested reading: Managing Life as a Caregiver.]

The role of private insurance

Many people mistakenly think that private insurance will cover long-term care services. It won't. Medical insurance only covers visits to the doctor, medications and some medical equipment. Long-term care insurance can be costly and siphon off money that cash-strapped seniors need to cover more immediate living expenses. Only about 10 percent of seniors purchase long-term care insurance, according to a 2010 study; They're typically people with sizable retirement assets, McQuade tweeted.

Another option is converting your life insurance plan to help pay for long-term care expenses, Gray tweeted.

How Medicaid and Medicare pays for long-term care

Most seniors rely on Medicaid to cover the costs of their long-term care. Medicaid is a government health insurance program for low-income Americans. Hence, it pits the needs of seniors requiring costly nursing home care against the medical needs of adults and children below the poverty line. Seniors can only access Medicaid – a state-federal partnership – by depleting their assets and meeting their state's poverty guidelines.

Medicare does not cover the cost of a nursing home, as nearly 40 percent of people mistakenly believe, Bos tweeted. Krawsczyn from AHCA/NCAL said Medicare will provide coverage for Medicare-certified, short-term skilled nursing care after a qualifying, three-day hospital stay following surgery or hospitalization when doctors deem further care necessary.

If you have enough money to pay for nursing home care, find out whether a home accepts both private pay and Medicaid so you don't have to move in case your money runs out, tweeted Voyce, an advocacy group for long-term care residents in St. Louis.

If possible enlist a professional, such as a financial planner or an elder law attorney, to help you weigh your options and choose a course that makes the most sense for you, tweeted Denise Brown, founder of

[Suggested reading: How to Prepare to Financially Support Aging Parents.]

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