If you are a Medicare beneficiary, Medicare can pay for up to 100 days of care in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) such as a nursing home. Unless you are in a Medicare Advantage plan which allows otherwise, to qualify for Medicare coverage, among other criteria, you must have a qualifying hospital stay of 3 consecutive days or more and need doctor-ordered skilled care or therapy on a daily basis. However, a three-day hospital stay is not a guaranty that Medicare will pay for SNF care. The stay must be considered an inpatient hospitalization.
This handout provides an overview of the inpatient/observation status issue and provides tips on what beneficiaries should do to protect their right to appropriate Medicare coverage.