Medicare Coverage for Caregivers?

Former first lady Barbara Bush just exited intensive care at the Texas hospital where she received a new aortic valve for her heart.  At age 83, she will be able to recover and continue to enjoy an active life as an American senior.

This is a perfect example of why there is a continued need for caregivers for seniors.  Medical technology, combined with the Medicare insurance benefit which most seniors qualify for at age 65 (you or your spouse will need to have paid into the program through your payroll tax deductions for at least 10 years to qualify, which is another reason Caregiverlist advocates hiring senior caregivers through a senior home care agency so that the caregiver will receive proper payroll tax benefits and be able to receive social security and Medicare benefits when they retire).

Medicare Part A insurance provides seniors with:
  • Inpatient hospital care, for up to 90 days per benefit period and 60 lifetime reserve days

  • Skilled nursing facility care, for 100 days following a hospital stay of at least 3 days

  • Skilled Home health care, for up to 100 visits following a hospital stay of at least 3 days (PT, OT, ST, RN)

  • Hospice care in the home

  • Inpatient psychiatric care, for up to 190 days during a beneficiary's lifetime

Medicare Part B insurance provides:

  • Physician services (including doctor office visits, surgeries, consultations)

  • Medical equipment such as wheelchairs; lab, diagnostic, and screening tests

  • Outpatient hospital services

  • Physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy

  • Outpatient mental health services
Medicare does NOT pay for non-medical caregivers to assist the senior at their home or for long-term care in a nursing facility (non-medical caregiver means companion caregivers and Certified Nursing Aides - they are considered non-medical as they are not  medical doctors or nurses but  they are the people who provide the hands-on care in a nursing home and hospital and provide home care. About 39 million seniors are currently covered by Medicare.

Maybe it is time for Medicare to begin providing at least a few weeks of coverage for a caregiver?  Especially since Medicare is willing to pay companies many times the wholesale rate for a power wheelchair, for example.  I do hope that President Obama's health care team will take a good look at where the dollars are going for Medicare benefits and perhaps find a way to include caregiving services, which are often the most needed services after recovering from major surgery or while coping with age-related illnesses.

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