Are Adult Children Required to Support their Aging Parents in Ohio?

Under Ohio law, there are certain individuals that you are required to financially support and cannot abandon.  Those people are your spouse, your child who is under age 18 or handicapped child under age 21, and your aged or infirm parents or adoptive parents who lack the ability or financial means to support themselves.  Failure to provide support is a crime and a misdemeanor of the first degree.  However, although this law has been in effect since 1974, I could not find a case where it was used to prosecute an adult child for not providing financial support for an aging parent. 

So why the lack of enforcement? Beyond the fact that our jails are over-crowded enough as it is, is the fact that with skyrocketing health care costs, it simply isn’t feasible to require adult children to cover the cost of their parent’s astronomical long-term care costs.

According to the 2010 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs conducted by Metlife, the annual cost of a semi-private room in a Cleveland area nursing home was $75,190 and a private room was $87,600.

Moreover, counter to popular belief, Medicare will not cover prolonged nursing home care. Medicare Part A provides limited coverage for skilled nursing care if certain requirements are met.   However, even if your level of care meets Medicare’s eligibility requirements, Medicare Part A only covers the cost of a skilled nursing facility for up to 20 days, with the possibility of an additional 80 days on a co-payment basis. 

Again, according to Metlife, which based their statistics on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average nursing home stay is 2.4 years.  Moreover, most nursing home stays are not covered by Medicare at all, as most nursing home residents do not require skilled nursing care, which is a prerequisite to Medicare Part A coverage. 

Since Medicare will not cover the costs of long-term care, and 70% of people over 65 will need long term care during their lifetimes, many people will need to turn to Medicaid.

Medicaid is a health insurance program funded with state and federal money, administered by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.  For those who qualify, Medicaid covers the cost of long-term care. 

And thankfully for adult children all over Ohio and the United Stated, Medicaid does not required adult children to support their aging parents.  Under federal law, states like Ohio, who administer the program, are prohibited from looking at the finances of an applicant’s adult children when determining eligibility.  Hence, you will not be required by Medicaid to contribute to your aging parent’s long term medical costs.

Please keep in mind, though, that because Medicaid’s resource limit is so low (currently $1,500) without proper planning, your parents will have to deplete all their resources before they can qualify. There are many planning opportunities available in order to not only preserve as much of your parents’ savings as possible but also to improve the financial situation of your parents’ spouse, should they need long term care.  A Medicaid Planning attorney can help you explore your Medicaid planning options. 

So what do you think, should adult children be required to help support their aging parents? Please post your thoughts.

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