How to Offset the Cost of Alzheimer's Care

If one of your loved ones has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, you probably are already familiar with the scope of care that will be required as the disease progresses. However, you may not yet have taken the time to consider how you and your family will pay for the cost of care, particularly as your loved one's needs increase. There are several options that can help you prepare to cover the cost of care - here's an introduction to the most common solutions.

What is covered by Medicare and Medicaid?

Medicare covers inpatient hospital care, doctors' fees, hospice care and certain skilled nursing home care in limited circumstances, but it will not cover the cost of daily, unskilled care required as Alzheimer's disease progresses in elderly patients. Since the disease generally lasts between eight to 10 years, this means that people often end up having to pay around $60,000 out of pocket - per year. (If you would like your loved one to have a private room in a nursing home, rates can be over $80,000.) These kinds of exorbitant fees are why it is necessary to look for an additional solution to pay, without sacrificing the quality of the care your loved one receives.

The best time to start planning for Alzheimer's disease care is well in advance, before it is required at all. It is advisable that you start investigating Medicaid in particular five years in advance, since Medicaid reviews five years of financial records to determine if your loved one is eligible. While Medicaid doesn't directly pay for unskilled home care, it does allow for nursing home costs, though the amount of coverage provided depends on your income and eligibility.

Payment options

Certain forms of private life insurance can also help with the payments, though it may be difficult to find a good premium if the disease has already advanced. Finally, if your loved one already has a life insurance policy, they may be able to sell it for a cash payout. This generally requires the individual to be over 65, have a serious medical condition and a plan of at least $50,000 face value.

Or, you may be able to save enough money to cover a portion of the fees yourself. This can be stressful, though, and likely will not cover the full amount over the years. Medicare Advantage plans offer the same coverage as Medicare Parts A and B, but certain plans also provide coverage for prescriptions, dental, vision, fitness services, caregiver support and 24/7 nursing advice lines.

How to find less expensive care

There are several ways you can find less expensive care. The first is by directly asking your loved one's doctor for more affordable methods of treatment. If your loved one requires a particular medication, their doctor may be able to provide you with a less expensive alternative. You can also drastically reduce the cost by adjusting how their care is provided. Private rooms at nursing homes, complete with on-call nurses, are the most expensive option. Homes offer a variety of levels with accompanying decreases in cost and amenities. The least expensive option is to manage most of the care yourself. You could also consider hiring an unskilled assistant to help with daily care for around $20/hour.

Going through Alzheimer's disease with a family member is traumatic enough without having to deal with its accompanying exorbitant bills. However, you can offset some of the cost by planning in advance, using a variety of sources and by finding ways to lower the overall cost of care.

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