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April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.  This is a good time to plan for the care of your loved who is living with Parkinson’s disease.  Are you concerned about how you will be able to pay for the care of your loved one as the disease progresses? Do you have family and friends caring for your loved one?  What will happen, if family and friends can no longer provide the kind of constant, consistent care Parkinson’s disease requires? You and your family may find it necessary to hire caregivers in the home or consider a nursing home and figure out how to pay for it.

A nursing home can be expensive.  Nursing home costs can be more than $300.00 a day.  These costs can be paid from various sources, and it may be possible to obtain assistance in paying for a nursing home for your loved one.  For example, Medicaid and Medicare can pay for the costs of nursing home care. Medicare and Medicaid are different programs, but each can contribute to paying for nursing home care for your loved one in different ways.

Medicare is the health insurance program for adults over age 65 or persons determined disabled by the Social Security Administration. Medicare can pay up to 80% of the costs of all of the doctor’s visits and diagnostic tests related Parkinson’s diagnosis.  Medicare consists of Part A, which covers hospitalization and skilled nursing rehabilitation; Part B, which is considered health insurance; and, Part D, which covers prescription drugs.   Patients with Parkinson’s disease who qualify for Medicare can utilize its benefits to cover medical expenses until long term care is necessary. Unfortunately, Medicare has a limited nursing home benefit, paying only for 100 days of care per spell of illness. Medicare covers no long term care costs.

When long term care becomes necessary, Medicaid can be used to cover nursing home costs for qualified individuals.  To qualify for Medicaid, an individual with Parkinson’s disease must need assistance with at least three of five of her activities of daily living, must have income below the annual income cap, and have less than $2000.00 in countable assets.  Countable assets are defined by both federal and state law.

While most people look at their finances and do not believe they qualify for Medicaid initially, it is recommended that you meet with an elder law attorney to discuss the specific requirements in Florida.  Florida elder law attorneys know and understand the nuances of the state’s Medicaid rules.  An elder law attorney can also assist you through the process of obtaining Medicaid eligibility for your loved one, including how to obtain Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) under Florida Medicaid Managed Care Long Term Care program.  This waiver means that Medicaid may cover part of the cost of caring for your loved one within his or her own home, or in your home. If services in the home are not an option for your loved one, an elder law attorney can also help obtain Medicaid coverage for the costs of nursing home care, if your loved one needs to enter into one.

If you or your family have questions about how to plan for the care of your loved one living with Parkinson’s Disease, contact a Florida elder law attorney to discuss the various options for paying for care, the local resources that may be available, and how to put together a plan to best serve the needs of your loved one.

The Sketchley Law Firm, P.A. was established in 2002 by Twyla Sketchley, a Florida Bar Board Certified Elder Law Attorney. We are dedicated to providing clients compassionate, quality representation, and helping create a safe supportive community for our most vulnerable neighbors.  We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.