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Will Medicare pay the bills for a patient who must stay in a nursing home?

Medicare is the federally funded insurance program that's automatically available to most people when they turn 65. The program will pay for a participant's stay in a nursing home, but only for a limited amount of time. If you are discharged from a hospital but continue to need skilled nursing care at an approved nursing home, Medicare will pay for the first 20 days' stay in the home. It will pay a portion of the cost if up to 80 more days are needed. After that, neither Medicare nor a Medigap policy will pay for any services. If you go directly into a nursing home without first staying in the hospital, neither Medicare nor Medigap will cover any of the cost. You might be eligible for assistance from Medicaid, the program for low-income elderly people who have few assets. But failing that, the cost of your stay will likely have to be paid out of your own pocket.