Does Medicare cover long-term care?

It’s never too early to know your options

You probably don’t want to think about it. You certainly don’t ever want to need it.

However, at some point in our lives, about 60% of us will need help with things like getting dressed and making meals.1

And when it comes to long-term care, Medicare doesn’t cover it.

What is long-term care?

Long-term care includes a range of services and support that helps you meet your personal care needs in the event of illness or injury—or simply as a result of getting older.

Most long-term care is not medical care. It focuses more on helping with common activities of daily living. That may include help with bathing and dressing, using the toilet, moving from a bed to a chair, incontinence care, taking medications, meal preparation and more.

It’s important to note that while Medicare won’t cover help with daily living activities, it will continue to pay for your covered medical care.

Nursing homes vs. assisted living facilities

Many people talk about nursing homes and assisted living (or senior living) facilities as if they’re the same thing. But Medicare treats them very differently when it comes to coverage.

Medicare doesn't cover help with daily living activities (custodial care) if it's the only care you need. Most nursing home and assisted living care is custodial care. However, Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) may cover care in a licensed nursing facility for a limited time if you need skilled nursing care.

A common and popular alternative to a nursing home is an assisted living facility. They’re a great option for people who no longer can—or care to—live on their own, but they can be expensive—and Medicare doesn’t cover them.

Does Medicare offer long-term care insurance?

Medicare does not provide long-term care insurance, nor will it pay for long-term care. It may, however provide coverage for the following medically necessary care:

  • Care in a long-term care hospital
  • Skilled nursing care in a skilled nursing facility
  • Eligible home health services
  • Hospice and respite care

You can, however, purchase a private long-term care insurance policy to help protect your assets in retirement.

Why should I consider long-term care insurance?

Although we all hope for good health throughout our lives, sometimes circumstances change.

Take control of your retirement healthcare expenses and consider a long term care insurance plan. These supplemental programs offer a secure foundation should you or your spouse need a level of care you simply can’t manage on your own.


  1. “What is Long-Term Care (LTC) and Who Needs it,”, last accessed March 11, 2021,, opens new window.

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