Does Medicare Cover Nursing Homes

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Understanding Medicare Nursing Home Coverage

When it comes to Medicare and nursing home care, understanding the coverage options is crucial. One key aspect of Medicare coverage is for skilled nursing facilities, which provide specialized care to individuals who need assistance with daily activities and medical services.

Key Takeaways:

  • Medicare provides coverage for skilled nursing facility care under certain conditions.
  • Not all nursing home services are covered by Medicare, such as custodial care.
  • Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance can offer additional coverage for nursing home care.
  • Medicaid and long-term care insurance may be alternative options for nursing home financial assistance.
  • Early planning and understanding your rights as a Medicare nursing home resident are crucial.
Does Medicare Cover Nursing Homes

What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

A skilled nursing facility (SNF) is a healthcare facility that provides round-the-clock nursing care for individuals who require a high level of medical attention. These facilities have a team of trained healthcare professionals, including nurses and therapists, who are dedicated to providing specialized care and rehabilitation services.

SNFs offer a comprehensive range of services, including:

  • Medical care and monitoring
  • Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy and occupational therapy
  • Medication management
  • Dietary and nutritional support

It’s important to note that not all nursing homes are considered SNFs. To be eligible for Medicare coverage, a nursing home must meet specific criteria and be certified by Medicare.

Medicare Coverage for Skilled Nursing Facilities

Medicare Part A provides coverage for skilled nursing facility care under certain conditions. To qualify for Medicare coverage, the following conditions must be met:

  1. The individual must have Medicare Part A.
  2. The individual must have a qualifying hospital stay of at least 3 consecutive days prior to being admitted to the SNF.
  3. The individual must require daily skilled nursing care or skilled rehabilitation services that can only be provided in a SNF on a daily basis.
  4. The individual must receive their care in a Medicare-certified SNF.

Medicare coverage for skilled nursing facility care is typically limited to a maximum of 100 days per benefit period. During the first 20 days, Medicare covers the full cost of care. From day 21 to day 100, the individual is responsible for a daily coinsurance amount.

Limitations and Restrictions

It’s important to be aware of the limitations and restrictions associated with Medicare nursing home coverage. Medicare coverage only applies to skilled nursing facility care and does not cover custodial care, which is assistance with activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, and eating) that can be provided by non-skilled personnel.

Additionally, Medicare coverage is typically short-term and not intended to cover long-term care needs. If an individual requires ongoing nursing home care beyond the 100-day coverage period, they may need to explore other options, such as Medicaid or long-term care insurance.

Understanding the details of Medicare nursing home coverage is essential for anyone considering or in need of skilled nursing facility care. By knowing the requirements and limitations, individuals can make informed decisions and ensure they receive the necessary care and support.

Key PointsMedicare Skilled Nursing Facility Coverage
DefinitionHealthcare facilities providing specialized care and rehabilitation services
ServicesMedical care and monitoring
Assistance with activities of daily living
Rehabilitation services
Medication management
Dietary and nutritional support
Medicare CoverageRequires Medicare Part A
Qualifying hospital stay
Requires daily skilled care
Care in Medicare-certified SNF
Limited to 100 days per benefit period
Limitations and RestrictionsDoes not cover custodial care
Short-term coverage
Long-term care may require other options

Medicare Part A and Nursing Homes

When it comes to covering nursing home care, Medicare Part A plays a crucial role. Understanding the eligibility criteria for Medicare Part A is essential for individuals seeking nursing home coverage through this program.

To be eligible for Medicare Part A coverage for nursing home care, individuals must meet specific requirements. One of the key criteria is a minimum three-day hospital stay. This means that individuals must have been admitted to a hospital as an inpatient for at least three consecutive days. It’s important to note that time spent in the emergency room or observation status does not count towards the three-day requirement.

Once an individual meets the hospitalization requirement, Medicare Part A can potentially cover up to 100 days of skilled nursing facility (SNF) care. However, it is important to understand that Medicare Part A coverage for nursing home care is limited to certain circumstances and does not cover long-term care.

It’s also worth noting that although Medicare Part A covers the cost of SNF care, it does not cover the room and board charges associated with nursing homes. These charges are typically the responsibility of the individual receiving care or their supplemental insurance.

Medicare Part A coverage for nursing homes often includes services such as:

  1. Skilled nursing care
  2. Rehabilitation services
  3. Medication administration
  4. Medical supplies and equipment
  5. Limited custodial care

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or Medicare representative to fully understand the eligibility requirements and coverage limitations of Medicare Part A for nursing home care.

Medicare Part A and Skilled Nursing Facility Care: A Comprehensive Overview

AspectMedicare Part A Coverage
Hospitalization RequirementMinimum three-day hospital stay
Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) CareCoverage for up to 100 days
Room and Board ChargesNot covered by Medicare Part A
Types of Services Covered– Skilled nursing care
– Rehabilitation services
– Medication administration
– Medical supplies and equipment
– Limited custodial care
Does Medicare Cover Nursing Homes

Medicare Coverage for Long-Term Care

When it comes to long-term care, Medicare offers coverage beyond skilled nursing facilities. Let’s explore the options available for Medicare coverage in services such as assisted living, home health care, and hospice care.

Assisted living facilities provide a residential environment for individuals who need some assistance with daily activities but do not require the level of care provided in a nursing home. While Medicare generally does not cover the cost of assisted living, there are certain services within an assisted living facility that may be covered, such as physical therapy or skilled nursing care.

Home health care allows individuals to receive medical services in the comfort of their own homes. Medicare may cover intermittent skilled nursing care, therapy services, medical supplies, and certain medical equipment. However, personal care services such as bathing, dressing, and meal preparation are usually not covered.

Hospice care provides comprehensive support to individuals with terminal illnesses. Medicare covers hospice services, including nursing care, medications, and counseling, for individuals who are medically certified as having a life expectancy of six months or less. Hospice care can be provided in various settings, such as an individual’s home, assisted living facility, or nursing home.

ServiceMedicare Coverage
Assisted LivingPartial coverage for certain services
Home Health CareCoverage for skilled nursing care, therapy services, and medical supplies
Hospice CareCoverage for nursing care, medications, and counseling

It’s important to note that Medicare coverage for long-term care is subject to certain criteria and limitations. Eligibility requirements, documentation, and specific conditions must be met in order to qualify for coverage. Additionally, coverage may vary depending on the individual’s Medicare plan and the specific services needed.

For a comprehensive understanding of Medicare coverage options for long-term care, it is recommended to consult with a Medicare representative or a qualified healthcare professional.

How To Pay For Nursing Home

Medicare Advantage Plans and Nursing Home Care

In this section, we will explore the potential coverage for nursing home care offered by Medicare Advantage Plans. These plans, also known as Medicare Part C, are an alternative to traditional Medicare and are provided by private insurance companies approved by Medicare.

Medicare Advantage Plans offer:

  1. Part A and Part B coverage: Medicare Advantage Plans must cover all the services that Original Medicare covers, including hospital stays, doctor visits, and medical tests.
  2. Additional benefits: These plans may also offer extra benefits that Original Medicare does not cover, such as prescription drug coverage, vision care, hearing aids, and fitness programs.
  3. Network limitations: Medicare Advantage Plans typically have a network of doctors and hospitals. In most cases, you will need to use healthcare providers within the plan’s network to receive full coverage.
  4. Managed care: Unlike traditional Medicare, which allows you to see any doctor or specialist without a referral, Medicare Advantage Plans often require you to choose a primary care doctor and get referrals to see specialists.

It is important to note that not all Medicare Advantage Plans offer nursing home coverage. However, some plans may provide coverage for skilled nursing facility care, which includes services like nursing care, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

Here is a breakdown of the potential coverage for nursing home care under Medicare Advantage Plans:

Medicare Advantage Plan CoverageCoverage Details
Coverage for Skilled Nursing Facility careCoverage for services provided by skilled nursing facilities, including nursing care, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
Coverage for Long-Term CareSome Medicare Advantage Plans may offer coverage for long-term care services, such as assisted living, home health care, and personal care services. It is essential to review plan details to determine the extent of coverage.
Network LimitationsMedicare Advantage Plans often have a network of healthcare providers, so it is crucial to verify if the nursing home or long-term care facility you prefer is within the plan’s network.
Costs and PremiumsMedicare Advantage Plans may have different costs and premium structures, including copayments, deductibles, and monthly premiums. It is important to compare plan options to determine the most suitable coverage for your needs.

When considering Medicare Advantage Plans for nursing home care, it is vital to review the plan’s detailed coverage information, network, costs, and benefits. Comparing different plans and understanding their specific offerings can help you make an informed decision about the best Medicare coverage for your nursing home care needs.

Medicare Supplement Insurance and Nursing Homes

In this section, we will explore the benefits of Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigap, in providing coverage for nursing home care. Medigap plans are designed to fill the gaps in Medicare coverage, offering additional financial protection for individuals seeking long-term care services.

When it comes to nursing home care, Medicare alone may not cover all the expenses, leaving individuals responsible for significant out-of-pocket costs. That’s where Medicare Supplement Insurance comes in. These plans help alleviate the financial burden by covering some of the costs that Medicare doesn’t.

Medicare Supplement Insurance policies are sold by private insurance companies and are standardized across different states. These plans are designed to work alongside Original Medicare, filling in the coverage gaps and minimizing the potential financial strain of nursing home care.

With Medicare Supplement Insurance, you have the freedom to choose from a variety of plans, each offering different levels of coverage. Some plans may cover coinsurance, deductibles, and copayments associated with nursing home care. Others may provide coverage for additional services, such as prescription drugs or skilled nursing facility stays beyond the initial coverage provided by Medicare.

It’s important to note that Medicare Supplement Insurance does not cover long-term care services, such as custodial care in a nursing home. However, it can provide coverage for the medically necessary care provided in a skilled nursing facility.

By investing in Medicare Supplement Insurance, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have additional financial protection in the event you require nursing home care. These plans can help you manage the costs associated with long-term care and ensure you receive the quality care you need.

Alternatives to Medicare for Nursing Home Care

While Medicare provides coverage for nursing home care, there are alternative options available to individuals who may not meet Medicare’s criteria or seek additional financial assistance. Exploring these alternatives can help individuals find suitable options for their long-term care needs.

Medicaid: Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health coverage to low-income individuals, including long-term care services. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid covers nursing home care for those who meet specific income and asset requirements. Eligibility criteria vary by state, so it’s important to understand your state’s Medicaid guidelines and how to apply for the program.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance is a private insurance policy designed to cover the costs associated with long-term care services, including nursing home care. It can help individuals pay for a wide range of services, such as skilled nursing care, assistance with daily living activities, and memory care. Long-term care insurance policies have specific eligibility requirements and coverage limitations, so it’s crucial to review the terms and conditions before purchasing a policy.

Other Financial Assistance Programs: In addition to Medicaid and long-term care insurance, there are other financial assistance programs that individuals can explore to help cover the costs of nursing home care. These programs may include veterans’ benefits, state-specific programs, and employer-sponsored long-term care plans. Researching and understanding the eligibility criteria and application process for these programs can provide additional options for individuals seeking financial assistance.

Personal Funds and Family Support: For individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid, long-term care insurance, or other financial assistance programs, using personal funds or relying on family support can be an alternative option. Planning ahead and saving for potential long-term care needs can help individuals cover the costs of nursing home care. Additionally, family members may be able to provide support and assistance with caregiving or financial contributions.

When considering alternatives to Medicare for nursing home care, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option, taking into account individual financial circumstances, eligibility requirements, and long-term care needs. Consulting with a financial advisor or elder law attorney can also provide valuable guidance and help individuals make informed decisions about their nursing home care options.

Long-Term Care Insurance Pay For Nursing Home


In conclusion, this article has provided an in-depth exploration of Medicare coverage for nursing homes. We have examined the specifics of what Medicare does and does not cover, the eligibility requirements, and options for obtaining nursing home care through Medicare.

By understanding the options and resources available, individuals can make informed decisions regarding their nursing home care needs. Whether it’s exploring Medicare Advantage Plans or considering Medicare Supplement Insurance, there are alternative avenues to explore when seeking nursing home coverage. It is crucial to plan for the future and take into account financial considerations and advance care planning.

Contact us for a free quote

Need Long-Term Care Insurance

Get help or a quote from a licensed financial professional. This service is free of charge.

Contact Us

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Medicare cover nursing homes?

Medicare may provide coverage for skilled nursing facility care in certain circumstances, but it does not typically cover long-term care or custodial care in a nursing home.

What does Medicare nursing home coverage include?

Medicare nursing home coverage is limited to medically necessary skilled nursing care or rehabilitation services following a hospital stay of at least three days. It does not cover custodial care, such as help with activities of daily living or long-term stays in a nursing home.

How do I qualify for Medicare coverage for a nursing home?

To be eligible for Medicare coverage for a nursing home, you must meet certain criteria, including having a qualifying hospital stay of at least three days and needing skilled care or rehabilitation services provided by a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility.

Can Medicare cover assisted living costs?

No, Medicare does not typically cover the costs of assisted living facilities. Medicare coverage is generally limited to skilled nursing facility care and certain other medically necessary services.

What are my alternatives to Medicare for nursing home care?

Medicaid is a government program that provides coverage for long-term care and can help cover nursing home costs for individuals with limited income and assets. Long-term care insurance and personal savings are other options to consider when planning for nursing home care.

How can I plan for nursing home care with Medicare?

Planning for nursing home care with Medicare involves understanding the limitations of its coverage and considering other options, such as long-term care insurance or Medicaid. It is important to consider your financial situation, explore different care options, and have advance care planning in place.

What rights do Medicare nursing home residents have?

Medicare nursing home residents have rights and protections, including the right to quality care, dignity, respect, and privacy. They also have the right to participate in their care decisions, voice concerns, and be free from abuse or neglect.

Where can I find resources and support for Medicare nursing home care?

Resources and support for Medicare nursing home care can be found through organizations such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), state health departments, and advocacy groups. They can provide information, guidance, and assistance in navigating the system and accessing necessary resources.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed financial professional, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

Scroll to Top