For many aging Americans the possibility that you might have to spend days, months, or even years in an extended care facility or nursing home is a significant worry. These facilities are notoriously expensive and can easily cost $80,000 a year or more. Even if you have a substantial retirement account, having to pay for private nursing home care will have a substantial effect on your assets.
For many people, developing an estate plan which protects as much of those assets as possible is a major goal. Health insurance policies typically do not cover nursing home expenses, so elderly people cannot rely on insurance alone to cover the expense. Further, while Medicare does allow for some limited nursing home or extended care cost coverage, it is not enough to rely upon for prolonged nursing home care.
If you are an adult child and end up paying for at least half of an elderly parents medical costs, including long-term care costs, you can also deduct a portion of those payments. However, those deductions are limited and will still result in significant asset losses.
On the other hand, Medicaid does pay for nursing home expenses for those who qualify. However, qualifying for Medicaid coverage is not something that most people can count on unless they take the time to develop a comprehensive Medicaid plan. Medicaid is designed to pay healthcare costs for the impoverished, and only people with limited assets qualify. In order to qualify for Medicaid you must act years in advance to structure your estate so that you meet the qualifications.