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home | Medicare | Medicare Lifetime Benefit Limits

Medicare Lifetime Benefit Limits

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Unlike some health insurance, Medicare has no lifetime benefit limit. Medicare hospital benefits are paid on the basis of "benefit periods." A benefit period starts the day a person with Medicare goes into the hospital. It ends when the person has not received hospital or skilled nursing care for 60 days in a row.

If a person with Medicare returns to the hospital before the 60 "out of care facility" days are up, it is considered to be part of the original benefit period. If 60 days have passed since the patient was in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, a new benefit period begins.

The patient must pay the Part A deductible for each benefit period. There is no limit to the number of separate benefit periods a person with Medicare can have for hospital or skilled nursing facility care in a lifetime. For each benefit period, Medicare pays all covered costs except the Medicare Part A deductible during the first 60 hospital days.


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