What are the Medicare hospital stay limits?
If a patient has used all 150 hospital Medicare days, does he have to be out of the hospital 60 days to renew his new benefit period of 1-90 days again? I know lifetime reserve days are never reinstated once used.
Unfortunately, yes. In order for Medicare Part A coverage (up to another 90 days) to begin again -- for a new "benefit period," as Medicare calls it -- for a hospital stay, you must be out of the hospital and skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility for 60 days. And those days have to be consecutive. In other words, if you are in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation facility, and your time out of the hospital is 60 days or more, there is still no new benefit period until you are out for 60 days in a row. Until then, if you have used up all 150 days of possible hospital coverage for a particular benefit period, Medicare Part A will pay no more of your hospital bills.
There is no limit to the number of benefit periods you may have, but for each one you must pay the Medicare Part A hospital inpatient deductible, which in 2008 is $1,024.
Editor's Note: The coverage described above may have changed. For the most recent information, please check Medicare.gov's costs-at-a-glance page.