Skilled nursing facilities primarily provide inpatient skilled nursing care and related services to patients who require medical, nursing, or rehabilitative services, but does not provide the level of care or treatment available in a hospital. Medicare pays SNFs a predetermined amount per day that a beneficiary receives care, up to 100 days.
According to data from 2019 and 2020, total Medicare SNF spending increased $1.1 billion (4.4 percent), despite 200,000 fewer traditional Medicare beneficiaries using SNF services in 2020. Average spending per SNF user was $2,724 (16.3 percent) higher in 2020 compared to 2019, driven by an increase in average spending per day (+$44), with an increase in the average length of stay (+1.6 days) also contributing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS waived the requirement that Medicare beneficiaries have a three-day hospital stay before being admitted to a SNF. Medicare beneficiaries with COVID-19 were 66 percent more likely to be discharged from the hospital to a SNF than non-COVID patients, increasing occupancy levels above what they would have been otherwise.
SNF-at-home provides opportunities for payers, health systems, and providers to lower costs, facility-associated infections, promote patient compliance, free up capacity in facilities, and address practitioner burnout. SNF-at-Home may not be a fit for every patient, but it is an important option for patients and providers to have. An integrated SNF-at-home program can bring services directly to the patient, allowing them to recover in a familiar environment.