I’ve written here in the past about filial responsibility laws in other countries, which had been invoked to force the children of the elderly to address their health-care costs and responsibilities.
In China, the government is considering widespread implementation of laws that will require the adult children of seniors to provide care for their parents. These laws are based on filial piety.
According to Wikipedia, filial piety generally means “to be good to one’s parents; to take care of one’s parents; to perform the duties of one’s job well so as to obtain the material means to support parents as well as carry out sacrifices to the ancestors.”
What I soon learned after writing about filial-piety laws in other countries was that these laws are actually on the books in some shape of form already in this country as well. If you live in any of the following states, you may be subject to filial-responsibility laws: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
So, what does this mean?
Let’s take a look at a recent case that highlights the impact of these laws. In May of 2012, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the adult son of a woman who had received nursing care and treatment at a Pennsylvania facility for a period of six months was liable for her $93,000 bill.
The interesting part of this is that the court actually recognized that although the woman had other sources of payment, including a husband, two other adult children and a Medicaid application that was pending, the responsible son had the “means” to pay it and therefore, he was responsible for paying the bill.
Welcome to the new world of health-care payments based upon Old World philosophies!
The important take-away here is that medical facilities, especially those where skilled care is being provided, should and will be paid for their services. The impact of Obamacare will be minor on this situation because, as I’ve written before, there are currently no provisions for creating government-based long-term care plans for most Americans, and there will be further restrictions on Medicaid as well.
If you’re an adult child who has avoided discussing health care with your retired or elderly parents, there are many reasons to get over that and have ‘the Talk.’ If you don’t and you’ve done all the right things for your future, including saving, investing and planning for your own retirement income, you may become the target for these medical facilities’ bill collectors, should your parents need extended and extensive long-term care.
It’s a whole new world of health care these days. If you’ve been in denial about having the Talk between adult children and retired parents, or about the need to consider long-term care, this denial may cost you big time.
Have the Talk! Know what your parents have in terms of health-care and long-term care provisions.
Educate yourself and your family on long-term care.
November is Long-Term Care Awareness month and a time when families gather. There may be not be a better time than now to do both of these vitally important tasks. You may be protecting not only your parents, but yourself as well.