Medicare is the federally funded insurance program primarily for those 65 or older. In general, if you are enrolled in the traditional Medicare plan, after a hospital stay of at least three days and you are then admitted to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation, Medicare will pay for the first 20 days of your nursing home stay. Medicare can also pay for another 80 days with a deductible of approximately $140 a day. In order to receive the maximum 100 days of coverage, the recipient must be receiving skilled care daily and continue to improve.
The obvious downfall to Medicare is the limit on coverage. Rehabilitation oftentimes falls far short of the 100 day maximum. The other downfall to Medicare is that it only pays for skilled nursing and does not cover the treatment of all diseases. For example, a nursing home stay because of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s will not be covered under Medicare even though the patient is receiving medical care. If you are staying in a nursing home longer than 100 days or suffer from a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s the best option to pay for long term or even permanent nursing home care is Medicaid.
Medicaid is federally and state funded benefits program that pays for long term nursing care once you have qualified. In order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits, you must meet certain limitations on assets and income. This is where Medicaid planning comes into play. Without proper planning and advice from a qualified elder law attorney, you could end spending much more than legally required.