How to pay for long-term care

It’s a common misunderstanding — Medicare will pay for your long-term care if you become too frail to live on your own at home.

People who plan ahead have a better chance of getting the care they need in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities or even with home health care in their own homes, say experts who help older Minnesotans navigate the long-term care system.

How to choose and pay for long-term care will be the focus of a program at Roseville Library from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 14. The session, part of the monthly Dementia: Caring and Coping series, is called “How to Pay for Care: Leveraging Benefits and Assets.” The library is located at 2180 Hamline Ave. N.

“Many people have come to me and thought that Medicare pays for long-term care, or their insurance will pay for it,” said Amy House, who works with families dealing with dementia at Brightondale Senior Campus, a senior housing complex in New Brighton.

House is active in the Roseville Alzheimer’s and Dementia Community Action Team (Roseville A/D), which sponsors the series of talks, and helped organize the March 14 event.

“The bottom line is that Medicare covers only a fraction of your care if you are no longer independent and need help with your personal care, household chores or supervision and safety, either at home or in a facility with or without dementia,” House said. 

In fact, Medicare will pay only part of the cost for medically necessary nursing home care for up to 100 days for recovery after an operation or illness following a hospital stay of at least three days.

Instead, it is the Medicaid program for the poor that covers about 61 percent of the nation’s $230 billion in annual long-term costs. The next biggest payer is individuals, with about 22 percent, followed by insurance at 12 percent and other government programs at 5 percent.

House will talk about the types of long-term care and the costs for those paying their own way.

Also speaking will be Beth Nemec of Lifesprk, a company based in St. Louis Park that offers home health care, care managers and help in finding appropriate senior housing. She will talk about what services Medicare covers, including some home health care, physical and other therapy, hospice care and short-term nursing home or hospital stays.

Elderlaw attorney Leah Gilbert of Waconia will discuss various state-federal Medicaid programs, including what they cover and how to qualify. She also will talk about how to plan ahead for long-term care, how to choose a power of attorney and other legal issues related to long-term care.

The program is expected to draw area people who want to plan ahead for choosing and paying for long-term care, as well as people concerned about family members who may be facing long-term care choices.

The next event in the series will be at the library on April 11, called “After a Diagnosis: I Am More Than a Symptom.” Speakers will discuss resources available to help people diagnosed with dementia and their families live fulfilling, purposeful lives.

For more information about the series or other Roseville A/D programs, go to


—Warren Wolfe is a Roseville resident who retired from the Star Tribune, where he reported on aging and health care policy issues. He also is active in Roseville. A/D.

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