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Medicare Coverage and Costs

If you have cancer, the type and amount of care you need may change as you are treated. There are three major types of treatment:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

You may get two or more of these treatments at the same time or one after another.

What does Medicare cover?

Cancer treatment can cost a lot. But Medicare will help pay to diagnose medical and mental health conditions you face. Medicare covers these services:

  • Doctor visits
  • Certain medical items
  • Ongoing medical treatment for your cancer diagnosis
  • Hospital care
  • Second opinions on surgery
  • Chemotherapy, or drugs you take, by mouth or by vein
  • Radiation
  • Medical treatment for other health conditions and side effects of your cancer treatment
  • Prescription drugs, for chemotherapy and to treat side effects such as nausea
  • Health care services at home, such as a visiting nurse or rehabilitation therapist and home health aides
  • Care to help you do daily tasks, called rehabilitative care
  • Mental health services
  • Experimental treatments in clinical trials
  • Short-term nursing home care
  • Hospice or end-of-life care

What will Medicare NOT cover?

Medicare may not pay for everything you need. Medicare often does not cover these services:

  • Services that help you bathe, eat, and do other activities of daily living but do not require skilled care
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Costs to give chemotherapy or other drugs by vein
  • Stays in assisted living facilities
  • Adult day care
  • Long-term nursing home care

Medicare will pay for most of your cancer treatment, but cancer care costs a lot. Your out-of-pocket costs can add up quickly.

Some people with Medicare have supplemental insurance to pay for care Medicare does not cover. This can include:

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