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Can Medicare cover long-term care costs for older adults?

Many people have misconceptions about retirement benefits, including Medicare coverage. Quite a few people find the different types of Medicare coverage confusing. That statement even applies to those already enrolled in Medicare plans. The average retiree and those preparing for retirement may not understand much about the way the different types of Medicare coverage work.

People often assume that Medicare is able to cover almost any expenses that they incur after retirement. However, that is unfortunately not the case. Medicare has relatively strict limits on some of the most expensive types of support required by older adults. Some older adults eventually require around-the-clock support in an assisted living facility like a nursing home, while others may need to have a nurse visit them at home so that they can continue living independently.

The cost of that long-term care can be thousands of dollars each month. Does Medicare cover long-term care expenses?

Medicare does not cover most long-term care costs

Older adults who have sudden medical emergencies often express shock and concern when they learn that Medicare cannot cover their necessary medical expenses. Someone who falls down the stairs and breaks a bone may need to stay at a rehabilitation facility for three or four months.

Unfortunately, Medicare limits long-term care coverage to 30 days, typically only after hospitalization. Someone who requires a short stay in a rehabilitation facility may be able to rely on their Medicare benefits, but most others are left without the coverage they may have assumed that they had.

Medicaid can fill the long-term care gap

The good news for older adults concerned about covering their care costs is that Medicaid benefits can cover the expenses that Medicare fails to address. Those living on a fixed income and with minimal personal property can potentially qualify for Medicaid benefits to cover their long-term care expenses. Those who prepare ahead of time can improve their chances of getting benefits quickly without being at risk of a penalty.

Addressing elder law matters, like planning for Medicaid eligibility, can help those getting ready for retirement. Older adults and their families often feel comforted when they have plans in place to cover costs that could potentially arise in the future.

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