My mother’s Medicare just ran out and she is in a nursing home in Maryland, how do I pay the bill?
I’m sorry to hear that, but your mother is in a very common situation. Many people think that Medicare will cover their nursing home bills for life. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Medicare only pays the nursing home for a few months, then you’re on your own. When a loved one has a serious long term illness, like Alzheimer’s and/or dementia, a years-long nursing home stay is common and may be unavoidable. After Medicare stops paying, here are your most common options:
1. Self Pay – Oh No!! The destroyer of a Senior’s hard earned savings, Self Pay is the worst option. The Nursing Home business office, however, will likely ask you to write a check (or many checks) without regard for your mother’s nest egg (if she has one). Business office personnel will tell you that you must give them almost every penny until assets are valued at less than $2500 (in Maryland). At that point, they tell you that your mother will be eligible for Medicaid (aka Medical Assistance) to pay the nursing home. They are sometimes wrong! Many Nursing Homes will not inform you that a good elder law attorney may be able to preserve some or all of the money you are spending.
2. Long Term Care Insurance – Try to find out if your mother has Long Term Care Insurance and has kept current on the payments. A common name in the field is Genworth whose website claims that it is the top insurer of this type. If she worked for the government she may have a low-cost policy still in force. She will likely not be able to purchase it after she enters the nursing home, however. Unfortunately most people do not have this kind of Insurance.
3. Medicaid aka Medical Assistance – Maryland Medicaid may pay all or part of your mother’s nursing home stay. One thing to watch out for is a Medicaid Lien, by which the State of Maryland may encumber your mother’s home after her death to repay the money Medicaid paid during her lifetime. There are enough laws, rules, regulations and policy to fill a large book, so consult an elder law attorney if you have questions. But if you are ready to apply for Medicaid, go to the local Department of Social Services where your mother resides or if your mother resides in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, or Prince George’s County, you must apply at:
The Bureau of Long Term Care Eligibility, 746 Frederick Road, Catonsville, MD 21228
Remember, there are many options to qualify for Medicaid without completely “breaking the bank.” An elder law attorney can help guide you through those options and answer any questions you may have. Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.