Long Term Care Coverage

 I don’t hate my mother-in-law.  I just don’t want to take care of her, when she gets ill.  She is 70 years old, a widow, living on a small pension and her Social Security checks.  She has some savings and a car, but otherwise has no assets.  She lives in a rented apartment.  To make sure that she can go to a nursing home (instead of our home), should we buy her long term care insurance?

No Room at Our Inn

Dear No Room,

The short answer to your question is no, you don’t need to buy her long term care insurance.  But that doesn’t mean that you have to be her nursing home either. 

Long term care (LTC) insurance is valuable to people who have money or a home that they would rather not give to a nursing home.  Your mother-in-law apparently has neither of these. LTC would also be very expensive, since the cost is based upon her age. 

Besides, she has other sources of help for nursing home costs: I assume she has Medicare.  And in some circumstances, Medicare will pay for a few weeks of nursing home care.  Beyond that, she will pay what she has until Medicaid kicks in. 

Her savings, pension and Social Security income would go to her nursing home bills.  She would get a small allowance for personal use.  Sooner or later, she will qualify for Medicaid by virtue of having no assets and low income. 

About half of all nursing home residents are getting their care with Medicaid funds.  Your mother-in-law will be in good company. 

You say you don’t hate her, so I do hope you will at least visit her on occasion.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.