| No, Medicare doesn’t cover any type of long-term care, whether in nursing homes, assisted living communities or your own home.
Medicare does cover medical services in these settings. But it doesn’t pay for a stay in a long-term care center or the cost of custodial care, which may include assistance with the activities of daily living (ADL), such as bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom — if that’s the only care you need.
Does Medicare cover short-term stays for skilled nursing?
Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital services, will pay for short-term stays in a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility (SNF) in some situations. Your doctor may send you there to receive specialized nursing care and rehabilitation after a hospital stay.
Care in a skilled nursing facility is covered only if you had a qualifying hospital stay, meaning you were formally admitted as an inpatient to the hospital for at least three consecutive days. This is different from observation status, which doesn’t count even if you stayed in the hospital overnight.
When you enter the hospital, ask if you’re being officially admitted or if you’re there only for observation. That’s important in determining the beginning of your benefit period, which begins the day you’re admitted to a hospital as an inpatient or become a patient in a skilled nursing facility and ends when you’ve been out of the facility for 60 days in a row. These rules mean you might have more than one benefit period in a year.
You must be admitted to a skilled nursing facility within 30 days of leaving the hospital for the same illness or a condition related to it. Your doctor also must certify that you need daily skilled care from, or under the supervision of, skilled nursing or therapy staff.
What skilled nursing facility costs does Medicare cover?
Medicare can cover many of the services you receive in a skilled nursing facility, such as:
- A semiprivate room and meals.
- Skilled nursing care.
- Medical social services and dietary counseling.
- Medications, medical equipment and supplies used in the facility.
- Occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech and language pathology services if needed to meet your health goal.
- Ambulance transportation if needed to receive necessary services that aren’t available in the facility.