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Financing Senior Living FAQs

July 14, 2023
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Because You’re Worth It: Frequently Asked Questions about Financing Senior Living

You don’t have to be rich to find enrichment in a senior living community. You just have to be prepared.

In your search to find senior housing – and pay for it – knowledge is power!

Frequently Asked Questions

There are numerous financial paths one can follow to put life in a senior living community within reach. But you and your bank account probably still have some questions. That’s normal. Although you should discuss any lingering concerns with your financial advisor and with the sales counselors at communities you’re considering, here are a few of seniors’ most common queries.

Will Medicare pay for a senior living community?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover most costs associated with living in a senior living community. One exception is skilled nursing: Medicare will pay 100 percent of the cost of care up to 20 days at a skilled nursing facility and approximately 80 percent of the cost up to 80 more days for qualified individuals. However, that care must be for recovery following an inpatient hospital stay.

Medicare doesn’t cover room and board or custodial (personal) care costs in assisted living communities, although some Medicare Advantage plans may pay for personal care assistance in assisted living or memory care (but not room and board).

Medicare also will pay for “medically necessary” care outside of a hospital, which means some medical services that may be offered at an assisted living or memory care community—physical or occupational therapy, for example, or diagnostic testing. That won’t eliminate all your senior housing expenses, but it might make a dent in them if you need a certain level of care.

What about Medicaid?

Although Medicare won’t pay for a senior living community, Medicaid might. Like Medicare, Medicaid in some states will pay for medically necessary care outside of a hospital setting, including some medical services that might be available at an assisted living or memory care community. In the case of memory care, Medicaid might also cover the larger costs of living in a community—provided that community has a Medicaid contract. Of course, you must be eligible for Medicaid in the first place, which means you must have a very low income and few assets.

I have the money now. But what if I run out of money later?

Policies vary from community to community and from circumstance to circumstance. Some communities are structured like apartment rentals, in which case nonpayment of rent will be a breach of your lease that leads to eviction.

Some senior living communities also offer benevolence programs and subsidies for qualifying residents.

Other communities—including many life care communities—offer contracts that guarantee lifetime residence; as long as you pay your entry fee, you’ll have a home there for life. Some senior living communities also offer benevolence programs and subsidies for qualifying residents, who may be able to continue receiving care if health care costs deplete their assets. Because communities vary, it’s important to ask what a community’s policies are before you sign a contract or lease.

How will senior housing affect my taxes?

You can’t talk money without talking taxes. Fortunately, moving to a senior living community might actually help your tax bill. That’s because residents of some communities may qualify for a substantial tax deduction. Specifically, residents of life care communities or other “entry fee retirement communities,” who may be able to deduct a portion of their entry fee as well as a portion of their monthly service fees—provided those fees qualify as a prepaid health care expense. Whether they do will depend on what type of contract you sign with a community. If you sign a life care contract, for example—which provides for your changing health care needs as you age—you almost certainly qualify for a tax break. If you sign a modified life care contract that provides for some but not all medical needs, you might still qualify for some deductions. And if you sign a fee-for-service contract, your deductions will be minimal.

If you move to a community that charges an entrance fee, that fee may be refundable.

Will I still be able to leave an inheritance for my loved ones?

If you move to a community that charges an entrance fee, that fee may be refundable up to a certain amount in the event of your death. A refundable entrance fee is typically higher than a non-refundable one but may provide reassurance for residents who wish to leave something behind for their loved ones.

Cost vs Benefit

At first glance, the cost of senior housing can feel overwhelming. Like every investment you’ve ever made, however—your first home when it was time to start a family, the new car you couldn’t wait to drive, the dream vacation you’ll always remember—the price tag on a senior living community tells only part of the story. Just as important as the cost is the benefit. Because you’re not just spending money. You’re getting something in return. And what you’re getting isn’t merely a place to live. It’s health and happiness. It’s independence and autonomy. It’s safety and security. It’s community and comfort. More than anything, though, it’s a future. And isn’t that what you’ve been saving for all along?

When you take a thorough look at the resources you have and the life you’ll be able to live, you might realize that a senior living community is more attractive, attainable and affordable than you imagined.

Check out “Because You’re Worth It:  Your Guide Financing Senior Living” to read more or reach out to our community for personal assistance.