Medicare has a provision of Lifetime Reserve Days. Medicare recipients have a total of 60 of these days available to be used only once in the recipients’ lifetime.
The Medicare entitlement for in-patient care is limited to 90 days per benefit period. At the end of this period the must leave the hospital. Each benefit period resets this in-patient care clock so a patient may receive 90 days of in-patient care in any benefit period. The number of hospitalizations you may receive is unlimited but each benefit period allows for 90 days. When your hospitalization exceeds 90 days in any benefit period you start using your reserve days.
These are used up one by one and cannot be replaced. If you are in hospital for 95 days then 5 of your reserve days can be utilized reducing the total you have left to 55. These remain available for the rest of your lifetime. The hospital administration is obliged to inform you when your regular in-patient benefits are exhausted and that your Lifetime Reserve Days need to be used.
During any benefit period where your hospital stays exceed 90 days, you can but are not obligated to use reserve days. You can pay the hospital any extra charges and saving Medicare Lifetime Reserve Days for a later time. You may never need to utilize these reserve days but they are a part of Medicare coverage and so it is useful to understand how they work. This may be important if you are the caregiver for another person who may be in and out of hospitals as Medicare benefits can be rapidly exhausted.