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According to the federal Health Care Financing Administration, approximately 50% of the total expenditures for nursing home care is paid out-of-pocket.

Many people mistakenly believe that Medicare covers the cost of most long-term care services. However, Medicare was developed for short-term, acute care in the hospital. Medicare is a federal insurance program. It is open to people 65 years or older, people who have been disabled for at least 2 years and people suffering from chronic kidney diseases.

Medicaid, on the other hand, is an assistance program jointly financed by federal and state governments for needy and low-income people of all ages. Using broad federal guidelines, stated design their own programs. Therefore, exact details may vary from state to state. Under certain qualifying conditions Medicaid will provide for care in Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF's) and also in Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF's). Depending on the situation, if a person is eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare will pay for its allowable benefits period if all requirements are met, after which Medicaid will take over the financial assistance.

Some insurance companies offer private insurance policies specifically for long-term nursing home care. These policies will vary widely in coverage and cost and it is important to understand precisely what kind of policy you are getting.

Make sure that the policy you are considering does not duplicate skilled nursing facility coverage provided by any coordinated care plan or other coverage you already have.