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One of the biggest Medicare myths is that the program covers long-term nursing care. But that’s not the case. Medicare only pays for short-term stays in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). If this has you worried, then PACE might offer you hope.
As we discussed in our article, “How the cost of long-term care could derail your retirement dreams,” long-term care in a nursing home is extraordinarily expensive. Since Medicare does not pay for long-term care, people who are faced with living in a nursing home frequently struggle to pay for the cost. Unless you have long-term care insurance (which itself can be expensive and sometimes difficult to obtain), you may end up having to pay for your nursing home services out-of-pocket.
Some people are forced to use up all their retirement savings and sell their assets to pay for their long-term care. And with the average cost of nursing home care in the U.S. coming in at an astonishing $7,441 per month for a semi-private room, it doesn’t take long for some people to exhaust their retirement savings.
And this is where PACE is a godsend for some people. PACE stands for Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. It’s a U.S. government program that helps frail seniors age in place in their own homes as opposed to having to go to an expensive nursing home to receive their care. PACE is a Medicaid and Medicare program.
For those who qualify, the benefits of PACE are many:
PACE was founded back in the 1970s by a San Francisco public health dentist, Dr. William Gee, and a social worker, Marie-Louise Ansak. They realized the nursing home model of care was costly and often did not meet the psychological and emotional needs of seniors. They found many seniors dreaded the idea of leaving their homes to live in a nursing home. Seniors worried they would become disconnected and forgotten, no longer a part of their families or communities.
Gee and Ansak founded PACE on the idea they could bring the healthcare services that some frail seniors needed right to the homes they lived in, preventing or delaying as long as possible the need for long-term care in a nursing home. The goal was to allow seniors to “age in place,” a model of care that many believe also provides seniors with an overall better health outcome.
PACE is now available in 31 states. There are a total of 122 regional PACE programs that provide services to seniors living in their districts.
You’ll need to be at least 55 years or older and live in a region where PACE services are provided. Before joining, you’ll need to be certified by the state in which you live. Each state has its own certification process. In general, you’ll need to be able to show you need nursing home-level care, but you could live safely in your own home with assistance from PACE.
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.