It can be a stressful time when your parents need health care, but it can be even worse if you think you may end up financially responsible for their care.
It’s no secret that health care is not cheap and depending on the level of care your parents require, the costs can be much higher than you think.
This guide will answer your most burning questions about whether you may be forced to pay for your parents’ care or not, along with some other helpful pieces of advice.
Read on to learn more.
What Is Filial Responsibility?
Filial responsibility refers to the legal duty of an adult child to provide financial support to his/her aging parents.
The law in many states requires children to take care of their elderly parents until they die.
If you are caring for an older parent who has been diagnosed with dementia, this could mean that you have to make decisions regarding their medical treatment and personal needs.
If you do decide to take over these responsibilities, there are several things you should know before you begin:
You Will Need A Power Of Attorney
You will need to get a power of attorney document from your state’s probate court. This gives you the authority to make medical decisions for your parents if they become incapacitated.
Your parents will also need to sign a durable power of attorney document naming you as their agent.
You Can’t Force Your Parent To Go Into A Nursing Home
In order to qualify for Medicaid benefits, your parents must live in a nursing home.
However, if your parents refuse to enter a nursing home, or you’re not happy with them going into a nursing home, you may still be required by law to help pay for their care.
There is an important point to make here anyway – Medicaid program rules state that they will not cover the costs of nursing homes themselves, but the care provided, so always be aware of this.
How Much Money Do You Have To Spend On Their Health Care?
As mentioned above, if you’re paying for your parents’ health care expenses, you’ll want to find out how much money you have available to spend on their care.
There are two ways you can calculate how much money you have to spend on your parents’ care:
Calculating Your Monthly Expenses
To figure out how much money you can afford to spend each month on your parents’ care, start by calculating all of your monthly expenses.
Add up all of your monthly bills (mortgage payment, car payments, credit card payments, etc.) to see what you can afford to spend per month.
Calculating Your Annual Income
Another way to determine how much money you have left over after paying your monthly bills is to look at your annual income.
For example, let’s say you earn $40,000 per year and your mortgage payment is $1,500 per month.
That means you have $3,000 left over every month to put towards things like your parents’ health care.
What Is Medicaid?
We mentioned Medicaid in the previous section, and it is a good idea to clarify exactly what that is for those who are unfamiliar with it.
Medicaid is a federal program that provides health insurance coverage for low-income people, including seniors.
It helps cover certain services such as hospital stays, doctor visits, prescription drugs, dental work, vision care, hearing aids, mental health counseling, long-term care, and more.
It is important to note that Medicaid does not cover nursing homes. If your parents need to go into a nursing home, they will need to pay for their own care.
Is There Any Other Way To Help Cover Their Costs?
If you’re unable to provide financial assistance for your parents’ care, there are other options to consider.
Some states offer tax breaks for senior citizens who choose to stay at home rather than move into a nursing home.
Some states also allow you to take advantage of Medicare Part A and B premiums which are paid by employers.
These programs can provide some relief when it comes to covering your parents’ healthcare needs.
The bottom line is that no matter what kind of situation you find yourself in, you should do everything possible to ensure that your parents receive quality care.
Can I Be Arrested If I Refuse To Pay For My Parents’ Care?
Unfortunately, refusing to pay for your parents’ care could result in arrest.
In most cases, however, police officers won’t come knocking on your door unless your parents are being physically abused or neglected.
It would be wise to get independent advice from a lawyer if you have special circumstances that need to be considered.
How Much Might My Parents’ Care Cost?
Your parents may require different types of care depending on their age and medical condition.
Here are some examples of average costs for various kinds of care:
Hospitalization – $4,200/month
Nursing Home – $7,800-$12,600/month
Assisted Living Facility – $5,400-$10,000/month
Home Health Aid – $2,700-$4,100/month
Personal Care Attendant – $1,300-$2,100/week
As you can see, these costs aren’t cheap, so you should consider thinking about this as early as possible.
What If My Parents Have Health Insurance?
If your parents both have health insurance plans, you may wonder if their plans will cover the costs of their care.
You should check with your parents’ plan to make sure that they have enough coverage to cover all of their medical expenses.
Also, make sure that you know whether your parents’ policies include any lifetime limits or deductibles.
The Bottom Line
The fact of the matter is, you may be forced to pay for your parents’ care because of filial responsibility laws – but these laws aren’t usually enforced and your parents’ care might be covered anyway through their health insurance or other state/federal benefits.
Remember, the best thing you can do for your parents is to help them live independently as long as possible.
Always seek independent advice from experts though if you are worried about potential costs.