Choosing a nursing home is an important decision that can greatly affect the quality of life for a person in need. Different facilities have different approaches and generally there is no such thing as a singular, perfect nursing home that is the best choice for everyone.

One prominent metric available to evaluate nursing home quality is Medicare’s nursing home rating system. The Medicare rating system rates homes from a lowest rating of one star to a highest rating of five stars. The system evaluates nursing homes based on health inspections, staffing ratios, and other quality measures. However, the usefulness of these ratings is limited since the ratings rely significantly on self-reported data from the nursing homes themselves.

A better understanding of what nursing home options are available comes from using community resources. Elder law attorneys, social workers, senior organizations, and support groups for people with certain conditions can all provide sound advice about the facilities available in a certain area.

An additional concern people have is whether or not the quality of care received differs based on whether someone is paying for care out of pocket or through the state Medicaid system. Certain facilities may also have a certain percentage, up to 100 percent, of beds designated as Medicaid beds.

Whether or not a nursing home bed is a “Medicaid bed” does not affect the quality of care received. It is illegal under federal law for nursing homes to differentiate the level of care received based on whether or not a resident is paying for care privately or through Medicaid. However, Medicaid does have restrictive, financial need based requirements that must to be met before individuals become eligible for Medicaid nursing home coverage. Medicaid eligibility requirements can also vary by state.

An experienced, local elder law attorney can work with clients to develop a plan to pay for nursing home care that minimizes out of pocket expenses.

To discuss planning for a potential nursing home stay, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.