What does Medicare cover after death?

The passing of a loved one is always difficult. In the midst of grieving, it’s normal to have questions about what happens to their Medicare coverage after they die. Many wonder – does Medicare provide any funeral assistance or final expenses coverage?

Unfortunately, standard Medicare does not cover any costs incurred after a beneficiary’s death. However, there are a few key things to understand about Medicare coverage after someone dies, including:

  • Medicare stops at the time of death
  • There is no Medicare death benefit
  • Limited funeral expense aid is available
  • Steps to take to close out Medicare

Knowing what to expect can make navigating Medicare after a death a little easier during an already tough time.

Medicare Coverage Ends at Time of Death

Medicare Parts A and B provide health insurance to help cover medically necessary healthcare like doctor visits, hospitalizations, and preventive services. This coverage is only available while someone is living.

As soon as a Medicare beneficiary passes away, their Medicare coverage ends immediately. No additional Part A or Part B benefits can be paid out after the date and time of death.

This means that Medicare does not cover any medical costs that occur after death, such as transportation of remains or embalming. Medicare also does not cover funeral, cremation, or burial costs.

Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Prescription Drug (Part D) coverage also terminates upon death, since these plans supplement original Medicare benefits.

There is No Medicare Death Benefit

Unlike some private life insurance policies, Medicare does not pay out any monetary death benefit that can go towards final expenses.

In fact, Medicare may attempt to recoup any payments made after the beneficiary’s actual date of death. For example, if a hospital filed a claim for services provided after the patient had died, Medicare would deny the claim and recover improper payments.

The only potential funeral assistance Medicare offers is allowing leftover funds in a beneficiary’s Medical Savings Account to transfer to heirs for funeral costs. But very few Medicare enrollees utilize these accounts.

Limited Funeral Expense Aid is Available

While Medicare does not assist with funeral costs, there are some other potential sources of aid:

Social Security Death Benefit

  • Provides a one-time lump-sum payment of $255 after the death of a Social Security beneficiary
  • Paid to a surviving spouse or dependent child

Social Security Survivor Benefits

  • Provides ongoing monthly income to surviving spouse, children, or parents
  • Based on the deceased’s earnings and dependents’ situation

Employer Group Life Insurance

  • Some retirees have group life insurance through former employers
  • Benefit is typically 1x or 2x annual salary at retirement

Veterans Burial Allowance

  • Up to $300 toward burial and funeral costs for qualifying veterans
  • Other VA burial benefits may also be available

While helpful, these programs rarely cover full funeral costs. The average funeral is around $7,000 – $10,000 so additional assistance is often needed.

Steps to Take to Close Out Medicare After Death

Closing out a deceased loved one’s Medicare account is important for ending premium payments and avoiding any improper claims or payments. Here are steps that the deceased’s family or representative should take:

Report the Death

  • Notify Social Security and Medicare to stop benefits
  • This can be done by funeral home, family, or representative

Submit a Final Premium Bill

  • Request a final bill from Medicare and any Medicare health/drug plans
  • Pay any outstanding premium balance

Return Medicare Card

  • Cut up and return the red, white, and blue Medicare card
  • This helps prevent identity theft or fraudulent use

File Last Claims

  • Submit any outstanding final claims to Medicare Parts A, B, C or D
  • Claims must be for dates of service prior to death

Arrange for Ancillaries

  • Cancel any Medicare-related coverage like dental or vision plans
  • Make arrangements for any unused medical equipment rentals to be returned

Handling these details ensures everything is squared away with Medicare and avoids any issues down the line.

Does Medicare Pay for Hospice Care After Death?

One exception where Medicare may make payments after a death is for hospice services. If someone dies while enrolled in a Medicare hospice benefit, the hospice provider can continue receiving a per-diem payment from Medicare for a limited number of days.

This payment is meant to cover any nursing, aide, social, or counseling services the hospice provides to the individual’s family in the days immediately following the death. Payments can continue for up to 7 days after death.

So hospice care does represent one situation where Medicare may cover costs for a short time after a beneficiary dies. This support can be invaluable to grieving families.

Finding Other Final Expense Assistance

The lack of funeral benefits from Medicare means that planning for these inevitable costs is wise. Here are some steps that can make final expenses more manageable:

  • Save independently into a dedicated funeral fund over many years
  • Purchase a small life insurance policy to cover final costs
  • Pre-pay some funeral expenses by making arrangements with a funeral home
  • Check if any local religious or community groups offer funeral assistance
  • See if special assistance is available for veterans or low-income families

Taking action before Medicare enrollment ends at death allows you to create a plan and budget for expected funeral costs down the road.

Does Medicare Cover Anything After Death?

  • No Medicare benefits can be paid for any services rendered after the beneficiary’s death
  • There is no monetary death payment from Medicare
  • Funeral, burial, and cremation expenses are not covered
  • Medicare will not make payments to other survivors after death

Medicare does not offer death benefits or final expense coverage. The only assistance comes from separate programs like Social Security and veterans’ burial benefits.

Knowing what to expect from Medicare after someone dies allows families to plan accordingly and limit financial surprises during an already difficult time. Check in with a Medicare expert if you need guidance managing Medicare benefits after the loss of a loved one.

Does Medicare Cover Funeral Expenses?


What does Medicare pay when someone dies?

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as Medicare funeral assistance. While Medicare doesn’t offer funeral benefits, the Social Security Administration offers a small bit of aid through a Special Lump-Sum Death Payment of $255 to a surviving spouse or child of the beneficiary.

Does Medicare pay anything on funeral expenses?

No, Medicare does not typically cover funeral expenses. Medicare is a health insurance program that primarily provides coverage for medical services, and funeral expenses are not considered eligible medical expenses.

Does Medicare automatically cancel after death?

It is the executor’s legal responsibility to cancel Medicare after a death. But in most cases, the funeral home will offer to notify the SSA so you’ll have one less thing to think about. When a Medicare beneficiary passes away, it’s important to cancel Medicare as soon as possible.

How much will Social Security pay for funeral expenses?

Does Social Security Pay for Funeral Expenses? Social Security may provide a death payment that can be used toward funeral expenses, but it is unlikely to be a substantial amount. Your surviving spouse or child will receive a lump-sum payment of $255 if they meet certain requirements.

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