Will Medicare pay for any nursing home bills?

Mlprovin@aol.com asked...

My father has alzheimer's and is in need of a nursing home. What will Medicare cover of his bills at the facilities?

Expert Answer

For the kind of long-term care that an Alzheimer's patient is likely to need, the unfortunate answer is probably not much. Medicare is intended to pay for medical care, not for long-term residential care. Medicare Part A can pay for some short-term, skilled nursing facility care during a patient's recovery following an inpatient hospital stay of at least three days. But after that, there is no nursing home coverage. For a look at what kinds of care Medicare does provide for an Alzheimer's patient, look at this site's article Medicare Coverage for Mental Health and Alzheimer's Care.

If your father has low income and few assets other than his home -- or he uses up most of his assets to pay for nursing home care -- he might be eligible for Medicaid coverage of his nursing home bills. If he's eligible for Medicaid, that program can pay the full cost of his nursing home care (in a facility that accepts Medicaid residents) for as long as he needs it. Medicaid eligibility varies somewhat from state to state. To find out what the rules are in your state, and to learn where to apply, go online to any search engine and enter the word Medicaid and the name of your state. Or, you can call the Eldercare Locator toll-free at 800-677-1116 and ask them for the number of the Medicaid office near you.