Medicare and Continuing Care

Frequently Asked Questions

31. What kind of care do nursing homes provide, and will Medicare cover the costs?

Nursing homes serve as permanent residences for people who are too frail or sick to live at home because of physical, emotional, or mental problems. Nursing homes provide a wide range of personal care and health services, including helping people with dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom. Nursing home residents usually require daily assistance.

Nursing home care can be very expensive. Medicare generally doesn't cover nursing home care. There are many ways people can pay for nursing home care. For example, they can use their money, they may be able to get help from their state, or they may use long-term care insurance.

Nursing home care isn't covered by many types of health insurance. Most people who enter nursing homes begin by paying for their care out of their own pocket. As they use up their resources over a period of time, they may eventually become eligible for Medicaid.

Medicaid is a state and Federal program that will pay most nursing home costs for people with limited income and resources. Eligibility varies by state. Medicaid pays for care for about 7 out of every 10 nursing home residents. Medicaid will pay for nursing home care only when provided in a Medicaid-certified facility. For information about Medicaid eligibility, call your state Medical Assistance (Medicaid) Office.