Does Medicare compensate a full time family caregiver?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My father is 60, has Vascular Dementia, has had 6 small strokes, Congestive heart failure, and his Myodisplasia just turned to Leukemia. He has Medicare A, B, and D. In order to prevent him from living out the rest of his life in a nursing home, I am going to quit working, move him into my home, and become his full time caretaker. This is a financial hardship for my family but something we must do. Does Medicare provid any financial compensation for a family member who gives up their income in order to provide full-time in home health care for their permanantly disabled loved one???

Expert Answer

Medicare does not pay anything to a family caregiver. However, if your father has a low income and few assets, he might qualify for Medicaid. If so, a program run by Medicaid in your state might be able to pay your father directly to pay for his home care, which he could then use to pay you. In some states, this kind of cash assistance is possible even for people who have slightly too much income or assets to qualify for Medicaid.

This arrangement works through a state program called Cash and Counseling, or a similar program. Normally, Medicaid pays for regular home care and provides it through a certified home care agency. But this special program directly pays the person in need of care the same amount Medicaid would pay an aide from a home care agency. The person needing care can spend these funds on anyone he chooses to take care of him. He can also use some of the money to make home improvements for safety or comfort, or to buy personal care items.

The catch is that your state has to be offering this Cash and Counseling or similar state program. To find out more about these cash assistance programs, go to the page on this site called How to Get Paid for Being Your Parent's Caregiver. You can help your father apply for Medicaid and Cash and Counseling, or for a similar state cash assistance program, at a local Medicaid office. To find the local Medicaid office near you, contact the Eldercare Locator by phone toll-free at 800-677-1116, or online you can go to any search engine and type in the word Medicaid and the name of your state.