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Does Medicare Cover the Cost of Nursing Homes?

May 24, 20234 min read


At Stansfield Health and Life, we understand the importance of making informed decisions about healthcare and long-term care options. One common concern for many individuals and families is the cost of nursing home care and whether Medicare provides coverage for such expenses. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the topic of Medicare coverage for nursing homes, shedding light on the eligibility criteria, types of coverage, and other relevant considerations. By the end, you will have a clear understanding of Medicare's role in covering the cost of nursing homes and how it may impact you or your loved ones.

Understanding Medicare and Long-Term Care

Before delving into the specifics of nursing home coverage, it's essential to have a basic understanding of Medicare and its relationship with long-term care. Medicare is a federal health insurance program primarily designed for individuals aged 65 and older, as well as certain younger individuals with disabilities. It consists of several parts, each covering different healthcare services.

While Medicare generally provides coverage for hospital stays, doctor visits, prescription drugs, and other medical services, it's important to note that it has limitations when it comes to long-term care, such as nursing home stays. The majority of long-term care services, including custodial care provided in nursing homes, are not covered by Medicare.

Medicare Coverage for Skilled Nursing Facility Care

Although Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care in nursing homes, it does provide limited coverage for skilled nursing facility (SNF) care under certain circumstances. SNFs are healthcare facilities that offer skilled nursing care and rehabilitation services to individuals recovering from a hospital stay or requiring specialized care.

To be eligible for Medicare coverage for SNF care, specific criteria must be met:

  1. Prior Hospital Stay: Medicare requires that the individual has been admitted to a hospital for at least three consecutive days (not including the day of discharge), commonly referred to as the "three-day qualifying hospital stay."

  2. Admission to a Medicare-Certified SNF: The individual must be admitted to a Medicare-certified SNF within 30 days of their qualifying hospital stay.

  3. Skilled Care Needs: Medicare coverage is contingent upon the individual requiring skilled nursing or skilled rehabilitation services, such as intravenous injections, physical therapy, or occupational therapy.

It's important to highlight that Medicare coverage for SNF care is limited to a maximum of 100 days per benefit period. During the first 20 days, Medicare covers the full cost of care, while for days 21 to 100, a daily coinsurance amount is required.

The Role of Medicare Advantage (Part C)

In addition to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), individuals have the option to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans (Part C), which are offered by private insurance companies. These plans, approved by Medicare, provide an alternative way to receive Medicare benefits and often offer additional coverage beyond what Original Medicare provides.

Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer coverage for certain long-term care services, including nursing home care. It's important to review the specific details of the plan, including the coverage limits, network providers, and any associated costs.

Other Options for Financing Nursing Home Care

Given the limited coverage provided by Medicare for nursing home care, it's essential to explore alternative options to finance long-term care expenses. Here are a few avenues worth considering:

  1. Medicaid: Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides healthcare coverage for individuals with limited income and assets. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid does cover long-term custodial care, including nursing home stays, for those who meet the eligibility criteria set by their state.

  2. Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance is a type of private insurance that specifically covers the costs associated with long-term care services, including nursing home care. Policies may vary in coverage limits, waiting periods, and premium costs, so it's crucial to carefully evaluate different options before making a decision.

  3. Personal Savings and Assets: Some individuals may choose to rely on personal savings, investments, or assets to finance their nursing home care. Proper financial planning and consulting with a financial advisor can help determine if this is a viable option.


In summary, while Medicare does not generally cover the cost of nursing home care, it does provide limited coverage for skilled nursing facility care under specific circumstances. It's important to meet the eligibility criteria, such as having a qualifying hospital stay and requiring skilled care, to access this coverage. Additionally, exploring alternative options like Medicaid, long-term care insurance, or personal savings can help finance nursing home expenses.

At Stansfield Health and Life, we recognize the complexities surrounding healthcare and long-term care financing. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing you with valuable insights and guidance to make informed decisions. Contact us today to learn more about your options and how we can assist you in navigating the intricate landscape of healthcare and insurance.

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Andy Stansfield

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Disclaimer: Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information. We’re not connected with or endorsed by the United States government or the federal Medicare program. We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all your options.

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