Louisiana Long-term Care Partnership Program

Louisiana Long-term Care Partnership Program
Gray Easterling

I missed it, so I am going to review the information contained in a release from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals dated March 23, 2010.  Secretary Alan Levine unveiled the Louisiana Long-term Care Partnership Program which is designed to help provide citizens coverage for long-term care needs and “protect residents from being forced to exhaust their assets to become Medicaid eligible if they are faced with requiring long-term care, such as nursing home care or care due to a condition such as Alzheimer’s disease”. Long-term care is not typically covered under health insurance policies, HMO plans, Medicare or Medicare supplemental policies. According to this article, Medicaid does cover long-term care as long as individuals meet federal and state guidelines for income and assets.  Individuals would have to spend down all but $2,000 of their assets, with higher asset limits if a spouse is involved, before applying for Medicaid.

With the implementation of the Long-term Care Partnership Program, there is now an option that allows individuals or families to keep a larger portion of their assets and still qualify for Medicaid coverage. As of the date of this news release, there were seven insurance companies offering partnership policies. If you purchase long-term care through one of these companies, each dollar that an individual’s policy pays out in benefits entitles the policyholder to keep a dollar of assets if the individual needs to apply for Medicaid services. Hopefully, the long-term care policy will provide all the care needed.  If it does not, there is now some asset protection, as shown in this example given in the article. Suppose a person has an estate totaling $250,000 at age 55 and currently permitted Medicaid exemptions totaling $125,000. Without a long-term care partnership policy, the individual will have to spend down $123,000 of the remaining $125,000 in order to qualify for Medicaid. If the individual owns a qualifying long-term care partnership policy meeting federal and state requirements for $125,000 at age 55, they could financially qualify for Medicaid without spending down their assets after using the entire $125,000 benefit in the partnership policy. For more information, contact the Louisiana Department of Insurance at (800) 259-5300, or the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals at (225) 342-9500.  Both departments also have websites.

A related concern is the cost to baby boomers that provide care-giving services to their parents. In an on-line memo dated June 16, 2011 at financial-planning.com, it is noted that almost ten million adult children over the age of 50 care for aging parents at an average cost of $324,044 in lost wages and social security benefits for women and $283, 716 for men, according to a study from MetLife. These costs come just when most boomers need to be saving for their own retirement. More Americans now take care of their mother than a child. If you haven’t encouraged your parents to consider purchasing long-term care insurance, or you haven’t bought coverage for them, this is another reason for you to re-think your position.

From the Episcopal Hymnal: “Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do. Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure, until with thee I will one will, to do or to endure. Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly thine, till all this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine. Breathe on me, Breath of God, so shall I never die, but live with thee the perfect life of thine eternity.”  God is with you and your parents. Take a deep breath and relax, because your loving God will pick you up when you fall and take you back when you separate.

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