Medicare is a federally funded health insurance program for U.S. residents over age 65. Coverage has two parts:
- Part A pays for inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, and hospice and home care.
- Part B is the medical insurance portion that helps pay for physician visits, outpatient services, various supplies, therapy and other home care services that are not covered by Part A.
Patients must enroll in Part B and pay a monthly premium and a deductible. After the deductible is met, Medicare will pay 80 percent of the remaining cost.
Medicare covers the following Visiting Health Services services:
- Skilled nursing on a documented intermittent and part-time basis based on specific guidelines
- Home health aide on a part-time basis for bathing and dressing, as long as the patient is receiving skilled services from a registered nurse
- Physical, speech, and occupational therapy
- 80 percent of durable medical equipment, including wheelchairs and walkers
- Other medical equipment, including supplies for dressing changes
- Hospice services for patients who are terminally ill and have a life expectancy of six months or less provided there is a physician's certificate of need. Once hospice services are approved, other Medicare benefits related to the terminal illness no longer apply.
Medicare does not cover 24-hour care at home, prescription drugs, or homemakers/companions.