In the United States, there are three main types of nursing facilities (NFs).
An intermediate care facility (ICF) is a health care facility for individuals who are disabled, elderly, or non-acutely ill, usually providing less intensive care than that offered at a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Typically an ICF is privately paid by the individual or by the individual’s family. An individual’s private health insurance and/or a third party service like a hospice company may cover the cost. Board and Care Homes are special facilities designed to provide those who require assisted living services both living quarters and proper care. Often referred to as residential care homes, these facilities can either be located in a small residential home or a large modern facility. In fact, a large majority of board and care homes are designed to room less than 6 people. Board and care homes are typically staffed by licensed professionals, including nurses, doctors and other medical professionals. These facilities are highly regulated in order to ensure that the best possible care is being provided for the residents. Board and care homes offer residents 24-hour assistance, making them a highly popular choice for those in need of regular assistance.
Assisted living residences or assisted living facilities (ALFs) are housing facilities for people with disabilities. These facilities provide supervision or assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs); ALFs are an eldercare alternative on the continuum of care for people, for whom independent living is not appropriate but who do not need the 24-hour medical care provided by a nursing home and are too young to live in a retirement home. Assisted living is a philosophy of care and services promoting independence and dignity.
A skilled nursing facility (SNF) is a nursing home certified to participate in, and be reimbursed by Medicare. Medicare is the federal program primarily for the aged (65+) who contributed to Social Security and Medicare while they were employed. Medicaid is the federal program implemented with each state to provide health care and related services to those who are below the poverty line. Each state defines poverty and, therefore, Medicaid eligibility. Those eligible for Medicaid may be low-income parents, children, including State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIPs) and maternal-child wellness and food programs. seniors, and people with disabilities.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that oversees Medicare and Medicaid. A large portion of Medicare and Medicaid dollars is used each year to cover nursing home care and services for the elderly and disabled. State governments oversee the licensing of nursing homes. In addition, states have a contract with CMS to monitor those nursing homes that want to be eligible to provide care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Congress established minimum requirements for nursing homes that want to provide services under Medicare and Medicaid. These requirements are broadly outlined in the Social Security Act, which also entrusts the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the responsibility of monitoring and enforcing these requirements. CMS is also charged with the responsibility of working out the details of the law and how it will be implemented, which it does by writing regulations and manuals.