Medicare Covers Skilled Nursing Facilities

What Are Skilled Nursing Facilities?

Skilled Nursing Facility

All of us have strong memories of visiting the “old folks’ home.”  Whether grandparents, relatives, or friends, we recall the smells, linoleum, long hallways, and institutional dormitory rooms.  “Old folks’ homes” or nursing homes fall under the category of Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF).  Medicare covers skilled nursing facilities within limits.

Patients go to the SNF after surgeries to recover, from illnesses to heal, and from injuries to recover and strengthen.  Skilled Nursing Facilities are for temporary treatment, not long term residential care or custodial care, like memory care.  Other facilities, like senior living communities, assisted living, or senior care centers describe other types of facilities that assist seniors.

A skilled nursing facility provides highly skilled professionals, such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, registered nurses, speech therapists.  The advantage of an SNF is these professions are available 24 hours a day for the patients.  The level of care is very high but short term.

Post-Acute & Skill Rehab Services

Skilled Nursing FacilitySkilled Nursing Facilities are institutions that provide post-acute skilled nursing care and rehabilitation services.  People sometimes confuse skilled nursing care with nursing home care because most of the time skill nursing usually takes place in a nursing home location.  Medicare, however, doesn’t pay for “nursing home care”.

Medicare covers skilled nursing facilities within specific parameters.  Nursing home care is for individuals who have reached a point in life when they can no longer perform activities of daily living.  This is referred to as custodial care.  In other words, they cannot bath, feed, and dress themselves.  Medicare will not pay for those services to be provided exclusively.

Skilled Nursing is for after surgery or acute illness, for example, hip surgery for a fractured hip or a stroke.  A skilled nursing facility admits patients for a short period of time after being in the hospital to aid in their healing and/or rehabilitation.  Hospitals are incredibly expensive, and a skilled nursing facility can provide the necessary treatment at a lower cost.

Medicare Criteria For Skilled Nursing Facilities

The tricky part about skilled nursing facilities is admittance.  A skilled nursing facility requires patients to meet certain essential criteria for admittance and for Medicare to pay.  This is the complex checklist:

  1. The patient must be admitted to a hospital as an “inpatient” for at least three consecutive days, not including the day of dismissal. She can’t be in the Skilled Nursing Facilityhospital for “observation” for it to count for Medicare to pay.
  2. Medicare mandates patient admittance to the skilled nursing facility within 30 days of discharge from the hospital. If problems arise later—past 30 days—the patient cannot go to the skilled nursing facility and have Medicare pay for it.
  3. Only a skilled nursing facility can provide the type of care necessary for the patient’s recovery.   A skilled nursing facility would provide intense physical therapy for a hip injury or occupational therapy after a stroke. Going to the physical therapist’s office a couple of times a week would not be sufficient in those cases.
  4. A doctor, or appropriate medical professional, must certify that skilled nursing care is required for recovery.
  5. The patient must be treated for the same condition for which she was in the hospital.

There are nuances and exceptions to some of these rules.  The list gives you a good idea about how skilled nursing fits into your Medicare health insurance.  The Omaha, NE area has many quality Medicare certified facilities, and  You can find them on the Medicare.gov website.

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