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Medicare terms

Learn more about Medicare. Start with these definitions.


lifetime reserve days

If you need to remain hospitalized for more than 90 days in a single benefit period, Original Medicare will cover your costs for a total of 60 additional reserve days over the course of your lifetime. For each of these 60 lifetime reserve days, Medicare pays all covered costs minus the daily coinsurance amount.

limiting charge

When you receive care from a health care service provider who doesn’t accept Medicare for your treatment but hasn’t entirely opted out of Medicare, the most you can be charged is 15 percent over the approved amount for certain services. Limiting charges do not apply to equipment or medical supplies.

long-term care

Long-term care refers to both medical and non-medical care for patients with a chronic illness or disability. Care typically involves assisting patients with basic daily activities such as dressing, bathing and using the bathroom and may be provided at home or in facilities that include nursing homes and assisted living. Medicare, generally, will pay for medically necessary nursing home or home health care if recipients meet Medicare criteria. But Medicare usually doesn’t pay for long-term care that falls into the category of custodial care.