One of the most common misconceptions among retirees is that if they have Medicare, they are covered for stays in nursing homes. Though Medicare will pay for short-term care in a nursing facility, you will not be covered for long-term care. One of the reasons why so many people make this mistake is because of the fact that Medicaid does pay for long term care, but this is true only for those qualified to receive these benefits. Medicaid is an entirely different program than Medicare.
When it comes to nursing facilities, Medicare Part A will pay for inpatient care, but before they will cover this expense, the patient must have spent at least three days in a hospital prior to be admitted to the nursing facility. No matter how long a patient must reside in a nursing facility, Medicare will only cover the first 100 days.
Medicare will cover 100% of the cost, but only for the first 20 days. After those 20 days, the remainder of the 100 days is only covered up to 80%. This is the reason why so many seniors also have another form of insurance.
Medicaid will cover long term care in a nursing facility, but there are some major restrictions when it comes to qualifying for these benefits. You must be low income and have less than $2,000 in assets. You can have up to $3,000 if you are married. There are some exemptions, such as an automobile and a home, if your spouse is still living in the home. You should be aware that in many cases the state could put a claim against the home after your death to recoup some of the cost of your care. There are methods of getting around this, but it will take a solid estate plan that is drawn up by an experienced attorney.
If there is any possibility that you will not be able to cover the cost of long-term care, you will want to prepare for this chance now with long term care insurance and a solid estate plan.