Age With Confidence And Grace

Is Mom’s Medicare coverage enough for her long-term needs?

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2024 | Medi-Cal

Watching one’s parents age can be a difficult experience. Many people idolize their parents and find it painful to watch their physical and cognitive abilities decline as they grow older. It is also natural for adult children to want to take care of their aging parents, but they may not necessarily be able to provide financially for their parents in their golden years without adequate state support.

Someone who worked throughout their younger years or who was a stay-at-home spouse may be eligible for Medicare benefits. Medicare is a form of health insurance that provides coverage to adults who are past the retirement age in California and across the country.

Can people expect Medicare to cover the long-term care expenses of their aging parents during their retirement years?

Medicare coverage has troubling limits

Although Medicare coverage theoretically exists for the protection and comfort of older adults, there are some glaring limitations to the support that it provides. Particularly when someone needs long-term care as they age, they may discover that Medicare is inadequate.

Medicare can offer some coverage for long-term care. An older adult who has been in the hospital for at least three days can expect Medicare to cover 100% of the costs for their first 20 days of skilled nursing care. They can then receive partial coverage for days 21-100. After 100 days, Medicare does not pay for additional nursing home or skilled nursing care.

Someone who requires an extended period of skilled nursing support or a long-term stay in a nursing home may need to apply for Medi-Cal, the California Medicaid program. Medi-Cal does provide long-term care benefits whereas Medicare does not. However, it also has many strict requirements for eligibility that Medicare does not.

The adult children of older adults worried about their long-term care needs may want to encourage their parents to revisit their estate plans. People may need to change how they hold property, move assets into trusts and otherwise diminish their personal holdings so that they can qualify for Medi-Cal benefits without a penalty. Otherwise, last-minute transfers could trigger penalties that leave someone personally responsible for care costs that they do not have the resources to cover.

Although it can be difficult to talk to aging parents about their finances, it is better to address issues proactively as opposed to waiting until someone needs support that they cannot access. Learning about Medicare, Medi-Cal and long-term care may benefit those worried about the comfort of their parents as they age.