Medicare only provides a certain number of hospitalization days for a person’s life time. It also places yearly limits on what a person can receive for certain services. For some people, there is no limit to what a person can receive in a year or a lifetime. When a person exceeds the amount of services that Medicare provides, the options available to him depend on the situation. In some cases, he can use a Medigap plan to extend the services covered. In some cases, he may want to wait until he receives a new benefit period. People who require long time nursing care may be forced onto the Medicaid program.
Exhausting the benefit days Medicare provides for a skilled nursing facility can have the far reaching consequences. Once a person exhausts his benefit days, he must pay for his nursing care out of his own resources until the resources a drained to a certain point. After the resources are drained, he gets put onto Medicaid. Medicaid coverage usually lasts until the end of a person’s life in this situation. Rehabilitation benefits, which operate on a yearly rather than a lifetime cap, work differently.
Medicare places a yearly dollar limit on these services. If a beneficiary needs these items, Medicare will cover them up until the patient reaches the cap set by the governing board. At that time, a person either needs to pay for the services out of his own pocket, use an extension from a Medigap policy or rely on private insurance to cover the gap. The amount resets at the beginning of the next calendar year. Beyond a few benefits, such as pints of blood, most Medicare benefits do not have a set yearly or lifetime benefit.