Medicare is the national social insurance program issued by the United States government that provides health care once a citizen reaches the age of 65 or older. While Medicare is something that many seniors look forward to, thinking they will have more of their medical expenses covered. In reality there are many things that may not be covered.
Medicare is a short term policy for medical illness or injury. If you end up in the hospital with complications from a stroke, Medicare will be there to cover some of the costs. It will pick up much of your time and costs within the hospital, and even some of the time at a nursing home or care center while you recover and move through rehabilitation. Yet in won’t cover long term costs, and your payments will cease once the allotment runs out.
Medicare does not cover indefinite stays within a care facility, and will not cover nursing homes for the disabled, or for those who no longer can care for themselves. Once you reach this decision, all further costs will be paid out of pocket, or through long term care insurance if you’ve purchased it at a younger age.
What will Medicare cover?
Skilled nursing centers – Medicare will pay for recovery at a skilled nursing center after a three day hospital stay, and will cover a maximum of 100 days in the nursing center. As soon as the center deems you no longer need care, Medicare will stop paying.
In Home Care – Medicare will pay for nurses, therapists and skilled care if you are homebound by an illness or injury, and your doctor says you need short term care. This is generally for no more than 35 hours per week, until you fully recover or your doctor states you no longer need skilled care.
Hospice – Medicare will cover hospice care if you are not being treated for your illness, and your doctor certifies you will probably will not live more than six months.
If you’ve reached the point where you need funding for long term health expenses, what do you do when Medicare is no longer an option?
- Personal finances are probably the most common starting point. You can also use reverse mortgages if you own your home.
- Long term care insurance is an option, yet the earlier you purchase a policy the better.
- If your assets are low enough, you may qualify for Medicaid, which should cover most of your long term costs. If you don’t qualify because of too many assets, you will have to use that as funding first before you turn to Medicaid to qualify.