Many people mistakenly think that Medicare will pay for their future long-term care needs. While there is some coverage for long-term care services, it is very limited and should not be considered a plan to pay for future long-term care needs.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people 65 years of age or older that was created in 1965 under the Social Security Act.

There are different parts to Medicare, which are discussed below:

Medicare Part A is considered hospital insurance. If an individual meets certain conditions, Part A also helps cover a skilled nursing facility following a 3-night hospital stay and discharge to a Medicare-approved skilled nursing facility, hospice or home health care. There is an annual deductible due for services under Part A and there is a limited time frame for care.

Medicare Part B is considered medical insurance and covers medically-necessary services like doctors’ services and outpatient care. Part B also helps cover some preventive services to help maintain health and to keep certain illnesses from getting worse. This is a voluntary program with premium cost, deductibles and co-pays. The monthly premium is deducted from the insured’s social security check.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) combines Part A, Part B, and sometimes Part D (prescription drug coverage). These plans must cover medically-necessary services and can charge different co-payments, coinsurance, or deductibles. Medicare Advantage Plans are offered through private health systems and generally offer more coverage including hearing, vision and dental plans.

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. It helps lower prescription drug costs and helps protect against higher costs in the future. There are several plans offered through private insurance carriers.

Medicare Supplement Policies are a supplemental coverage called Medigap plans that help fill in the holes in the original Medicare Part A and B policies. They are standardized by CMS, but sold and administered by private companies. Some Medigap policies sold after the introduction of Medicare Part D on January 1, 2006 may include coverage for prescription drugs. Medigap policies sold after the introduction of Medicare Part D on January 1, 2006 are prohibited from covering drugs.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), www.medicare.gov

As you can see, neither Medicare, any of the Medicare parts, or Medicare Supplement policies are designed to pay for long-term care.

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