Medicare Does Not Provide Long-Term Care in Nursing Homes

Let me say it again: Medicare does not provide long-term care in nursing homes. The idea that Medicare does provide long-term care in nursing homes is one of the greatest enduring myths about Medicare. And, here's the scary part: I encounter this myth in discussion groups at all income and educational levels. I have seen the individual look of astonishment on the faces of clients and their families when I have had to debunk this myth and I have surveyed the faces of  groups where, only gradually, did audience members come to accept the truth.

In its September-October issue, Harvard's alumni magazine published  "Coping With Alzheimer's" repeating the canard only to have to  correct itself in the next issue. Medicare only covers rehabilitation care up to 90 days following a three day hospitalization.

Harvard Magazine should not be burying the correction on page 6 of the Letters section, it should be broadcast as a cover story because, although it is not news, it is new information for many Americans.

12/10/13: As Buzzell points out in the comments, I overstate. I stand corrected and thank Buzzell for the comment. Here’s what I should have said:

2 thoughts on “Medicare Does Not Provide Long-Term Care in Nursing Homes”

  1. I believe, understand, that counties have to provide long term care. I have a family member who is a centenarian, and exhausted all home equity, savings, etc. The county is continuing the long term care at a cost of $5000 a month!!
    How long will counties be able to afford this payment?


  2. I was surprised that you write that Medicare covers 90 days of rehabilitation in a nursing home. Actually it covers up to 100 days of “skilled” care after a minimum of a 3 day hospital stay, but no coverage for “custodial” care. Skilled care can include non-rehabilitative services also. However only 20 days of the nursing home stay are covered in full by Medicare, and if skilled care is no longer needed during a stay, Medicare will stop paying. Also there is a $148 coinsurance per day for days 21 – 100 in 2013 ($152.00 in 2014).


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