Monday, May 31, 2010

Eldercare 101: Boomers' Questions on Medicare

In 14 years working with Boomers and their aging parents, I've heard many questions about Medicare. These three are among the most frequently asked.

Q What part of Medicare covers assisted living?

A None. Assisted living is long-term supportive care. Medicare only covers acute care, such as hospitalization, or periodic outpatient events, such as doctor visits.

Q My dad is in a rehab receiving therapy for a fractured hip. Will Medicare pay 100 days of nursing home care?

A Not necessarily. One hundred is the maximum number of nursing home days allowed under Medicare A. When a patient reaches his potential, or stops improving, his Medicare time ceases. Very few people stay on Medicare A the full 100 days.

Q What about home care? Does Medicare pay for that?

No. Home care is not tied to a medical condition and is not covered under Medicare.

In a nutshell, Medicare's four parts include:

Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) provides basic coverage for hospital stays, post-hospital nursing home stays and home health care.

Medicare medical insurance (Part B) pays doctor and lab costs, and some out-patient medical services (i.e. medical equipment and supplies, home health care and physical therapy.)

Medicare Advantage (Part C) Sometimes called the HMO plan, this allows people to receive their Medicare benefits through a private health insurance, rather than through Medicare Part A and B.

Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D) pays some of the cost of prescription medications.

For more information on Medicare, visit the Medicare website.

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