What Are Lifetime Reserve Days For Medicare?

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.

Hospital days

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.

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.

3 Responses to “What Are Lifetime Reserve Days For Medicare?”

  1. leah says:

    Who keeps track of the life time reserve days used? if i use 8 days in 2009, how would the hospital know i only have 52 ltr days left?

    where is that balance kept, and how does it get accessed?

  2. Sherry says:

    Medicare tracks the number of days utilized. They have counters/calculators that keep track of the number of days you have used for inpatient & for inpatient psychiatric services. These are separate for Inpatient you are allowed 60 days & for inpatient psychiatric you are allowed 190 days.

  3. Sherry says:

    Sorry i missed the last part of the question. Once you go inpatient the hospital contacts Medicare or your insurance (MA plan)to find out if you have benefits available & how many days. the only reason you would need to utilize your lifetime reserve days is if the hospital stay was more than 90 days which is a benefit period. If you have a stay for 15 days & then you are out 40 days but need to be hospitalized again then then second stay is part of the same benfit period & the count for the 90 days would start at 15 not 1. for the count to start back at 1 you would need to be out of the hospital for a minimum of 60 days. i know it sounds confusing but you should be able to get these same answers from Medicare or from the Medicare Advantage plan you are with.

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