What are Lifetime Reserve Days?

Lifetime Reserve Days are part of the structure of Medicare Part A benefits. Medicare will cover up to 90 days in a hospital or skilled nursing facility per event, and each event is called a benefit period.

After the benefit period has been used up, the client will then dip into a pool of lifetime reserve days if the insured requires additional inpatient care. There are only 60 additional days in the Reserve pool, and a person cannot reuse them.

Lifetime reserve days function like an emergency supply of extra days if the insured needs more care than Medicare allows under the Part A benefit periods. This emergency supply contains 60 days which can be used at various times, but once each one is used, it does not replenish.

The standard benefit period for Medicare is 90 days per health event, which is covered if the insured required inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Once each 90 day period is used up, per health event, the insured (also called a beneficiary in Medicare terminology) will tap into the reserve days.

While the 90 day benefits reset as many times as necessary, the 60 lifetime reserve days are each available for use only once in a lifetime. Medicare is a great benefit to the elderly but in many situations it needs to be supplemented by other coverage, which is where Medicare Supplement plans, also called Medigap plans, and long term care insurance come in handy.

According to some studies, about 70% of elderly people will have an extended care need in which they will have lost the ability to perform 2 of the 6 activities of daily living (ADLs), or are cognitively impaired. These health events can last for years and it is important to plan accordingly.

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