Why Medicaid Can't Handle Long-Term Care
Nursing home care can cost several thousand dollars a month and it's estimated that half of people turning 65 today will need daily care—at home or in a nursing facility as they get older. On average, long-term care costs about $91,000 for men and double that amount for women, who typically live longer. Most middle-class Americans cannot afford those costs.
Many older people transfer or spend-down their assets to qualify for Medicaid in order to pay for long-term nursing care. But Medicaid, which now pays about 40% of long-term health care expenses—a number that's expected to hit 50% by 2026—was never intended for this purpose.
As expenses associated with long-term care continue to rise, state and federal health agencies are working with managed care companies, which previously were geared to providing shorter-term medical care, to help control spending. The hope is that managed care plans will save money, improve care for seniors, and better coordinate senior services, but changes and improvements are needed.
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