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Medicare Coverage of Inpatient Mental Health Treatment

By Caring.com Staff

What It Is

Treatment for mental illness for a hospital or nursing-facility inpatient

What's Covered

Medicare Part A covers hospital or skilled-nursing-facility inpatient treatment for acute episodes of mental illness.

If you have a Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage plan: Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage plans, also called Medicare Advantage plans, must cover everything that's included in original Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. But sometimes a Part C plan covers more, with extra services or an expanded amount of coverage. (Co-payments for Part C plans may also be different than those for Part A or Part B.) To find out whether your plan provides extra coverage or requires different co-payments for inpatient mental health treatment, contact the plan directly.

What Medicare Pays

Medicare Part A coverage for inpatient mental healthcare varies depending on the location of the inpatient care:

  • Care in a general hospital. Medicare Part A pays for inpatient mental healthcare in a general (nonpsychiatric) hospital under the same terms and conditions as it pays for any other hospital inpatient care, with a deductible, daily coinsurance amounts for long stays, and limits on the total days covered.

  • Care in a psychiatric hospital. Medicare Part A pays for inpatient mental healthcare in a psychiatric hospital -- meaning one that accepts patients only for mental healthcare -- under the same terms as for a general hospital, with one exception: For care in a psychiatric hospital, Medicare Part A covers only a total of 190 days in a patient's lifetime.

  • Care in a skilled nursing facility. Medicare Part A pays for inpatient mental healthcare in a skilled nursing facility under the same terms as it pays for any other skilled nursing-facility stay, with a deductible, daily coinsurance amounts for long stays, and limits on the total days covered.

Important: Regardless of the rules regarding any particular type of care, in order for Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, or a Medicare Part C plan to provide coverage, the care must meet two basic requirements:

  • The care must be "medically necessary." This means that it must be ordered or prescribed by a licensed physician or other authorized medical provider, and that Medicare (or a Medicare Part C plan) agrees that the care is necessary and proper. For help getting your care covered, see FAQ: How Can I Increase the Odds That Medicare Will Cover My Medical Service?

  • The care must be performed or delivered by a healthcare provider who participates in Medicare.