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Does Medicare help pay for caregiver services?

Medicare has very specific coverage rules, and generally Medicare does not provide coverage for personal care (also known as “custodial care” such as needing help with meals, supervision) unless a person is homebound and also requires skilled care services provided by a Medicare home health agency. (Skilled care is care from a licensed nurse or therapist, which has been ordered by a doctor.)

Medicare does provide short-term respite to give caregivers a break but only under the hospice benefit, when your loved one has a life-threatening illness and has elected to receive hospice care.

However, there may be other options in your area (other than Medicare) that can help you and your family with taking care of your loved one. Here are some resources to help support your efforts:

  • Medicaid programs: Many states offer programs through Medicaid to allow direct federal payments to family caregivers for their services. To see what’s available in your community, use the Eldercare Locator at www.eldercare.gov. The Eldercare Locator can connect you to your local aging and disability agencies that can assist you in applying for assistance.
  • Caregiver respite and support programs: There are also a number of caregiver support programs that can provide respite care, so you can take an occasional break from your caregiving responsibilities. Check out Family Caregiver Alliance at www.caregiver.org, and select “Family Care Navigator: State-by-State Guide” under the “Caregiver Info & Advice” tab to help find local respite providers and support services in your area.
  • BenefitsCheckUp.org: BenefitsCheckUp is a free, confidential screening service from the National Council on Aging that helps identify thousands of programs to help seniors and adults with disabilities pay for health care, prescriptions, food, home energy costs, transportation, and more. To learn more, visit www.benefitscheckup.org.

Topic: Coverage of services and supplies

Keywords: caregiver, respite care

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