Older women have a wealth of experience and information to offer to younger women. WISER encourages all mothers, grandmothers and other women to share their money experiences with a daughter, granddaughter or another young woman in their life. Helping a
Caregiver Finance Stories
Dental Costs: A Major Financial Shock for Many Retirees
For too many years, Fran T. had what seemed to her like a small problem: a clicking jaw. The clicking was the result of a small mouth and a terrible overbite. Her dentist advised daily exercises and wearing a night guard. There was no improvement. So, Fran’s dentist referred her to a specialist who fitted her with a special device. None of this was covered by her dental insurance so she was paying all out-of-pocket costs.
What she wish she’d known:
Medicare does not pay for dental or vision so find out exactly what your medical and dental insurance will cover as you age. Get the best you can afford – don’t opt for bare bones coverage. If you have a health savings account, check if you can use it to defray costs. Take care of your teeth and get a second opinion.
Before You Retire:
- Take advantage of any dental plan offered by your employer or any association.
- Investigate local dental practices that may offer in-house discount plans.
- Consider delaying retirement to set aside money for a “dental emergency fund”.
After You Retire:
- Visit www.healthcare.gov to learn about Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans.
- Look at FAIR Health, which provides estimates of dental costs in every state.
- Use Authority Dental to search for affordable low-cost dental care in your area.
- Qualified Community Health Centers may provide dental care to low-income seniors. To locate a nearby center, visit HRSA’s website.
Already Paying for Your Parents Long-term Care Needs?
Filial laws could add another layer of stress for family caregivers.
Longer life spans mean that many retirees, particularly women, are more likely to need long-term services and supports (LTSS) and more likely to outlive savings. Recent research finds that about half of seniors will need a high level of assistance before they die and typically will need this care for two years. But, fewer than 10% of Americans are saving for long-term care needs.
At age 95 and older, almost half of that population—known as the “old-old”—live in nursing homes, and nearly all are women. After a hospitalization, Medicare will pay for a short rehabilitation stay in a nursing home, but Medicare does not pay for long-term nursing home care or for assisted living. Nursing home care is expensive and more than one-third of nursing home expenses are paid out-of-pocket by individuals and their families. The cost of this care can quickly impoverish most individuals. Medicaid helps cover nursing home costs for those with low income and few assets. Medicaid is the primary payer for more than 60% of long stay nursing home residents. Because of the income and asset restrictions as well as the complexity of determining Medicaid eligibility, most people enter a nursing home first as a private pay patient.
How You Can Prepare for Future Care?
Families need to get involved early and work with elderly parents to understand their health situation, finances, and the availability and costs of long-term services and support in their community. Knowing the resources and the options available can help avoid a panic when an emergency medical situation hits. Consider how routine daily tasks would be handled – shopping, meals, transportation, medical care, home repair, house cleaning and help with financial tasks such as paying bills. A written plan reviewed regularly is a necessity especially as the health of the older adult inevitably declines or other family circumstances change.
Filial Responsibility Laws
A lesser known issue is that some adult children could be forced to pay for their parents’ long-term care through state “filial responsibility” laws, which require adult children to support their indigent parent. Thirty states have such laws, which obligate adult children to provide necessities such as food, clothing, housing and medical attention to an indigent parent. The laws vary, but generally do not require children to provide care if they do not have the ability to pay. The laws have rarely been enforced, but that could change as states cope with the increasing burden of nursing home costs on Medicaid budgets.