A recent article by the Atlanta Journal Constitution highlighted the role of Medicaid as the last resort option for paying for long-term care for seniors in Georgia and across the United States. Even as the last resort option, Medicaid exists as the number one funding source for long-term care services in the nation, paying for more than 40 percent of nursing home services, according to research from Boston College.
Medicare supports seniors 65 and older by paying medical costs, but it does not cover nursing home care. While most private long-term care plans do cover nursing home entry, only a small minority of seniors hold such coverage.
With the average cost of nursing homes at $80,000 a year, most seniors bankrupt themselves trying to pay before eventually turning to Medicaid for support. Many seniors receive funding from Medicaid, but countless seniors are denied funding. In the state of Georgia, for example, Medicaid pays for nearly 28,000 seniors’ nursing home costs, yet of the 2,200 Medicaid applications they receive each year, more than 40 percent are denied.
The cost of Medicaid strains state budgets and taxpayers alike, and the strain will only be exacerbated by the rising cost of the senior population. As the baby boomers age, growing numbers of seniors will look towards Medicaid for long-term payment support but large numbers will be turned away.
One suggested solution for addressing the problem of the high cost of Medicaid and long-term care is to expand Medicaid dollars to pay for home- and community-based services, as home- and community-based care costs significantly less than that of institutional care. Analysts also predict that advances in technology will help to improve the level of care that seniors can receive at home, decreasing the cost of long-term and institutional care.
You can read the full story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.