Know These Facts about Subacute Care

Welcome to a subacute care center

Subacute care (also called subacute rehabilitation or SAR) is health care for people who are not severely ill. SAR is time-limited. The goal of subacute care is to improve your functioning so that you can get back home. SAR centers fill the gap between hospitals and nursing homes. That’s because hospitals are acute care facilities and are not geared toward long-term recovery needs. And nursing homes often do not have the right staff or treatments to improve the patient’s condition. That’s where subacute care steps in.

Who Needs Subacute care?

Have you fractured or replaced a joint (hip, knee, shoulder)? Did you suffer a stroke, a bad fall, spinal injury? Do you have a cardiac condition, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or congestive heart failure (CHF)? A subacute care center will help you to:

  • regain your ability to carry out activities of daily life after being ill.
  • manage new or changing health conditions.
  • learn to live as independently as possible.

Where do I find a subacute care center?

SAR is typically provided in a licensed skilled nursing facility (SNF). Sometimes, SNFs are part of a hospital system and located on the same campus. Sometimes SNFs are independent organizations. A SNF is licensed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to give SAR. A center undergoes regular onsite surveys to make sure that health requirements and life safety codes are being met.

What services does a subacute care center provide?

You’ll receive two types of care with subacute rehabilitation.


Depending on your condition, you may need to improve your balance and walking ability, learn how to move your limbs again after a stroke, improve your heart fitness after a heart attack, and more. Licensed physical, occupational and speech therapists will be on hand to give you the therapy you need.

Medical care

You may need respiratory care, wound care, antibiotic therapy, pain management, dialysis or more. Licensed nursing staff will give you the care you need.

How much therapy does a subacute care center provide each day?

The amount of therapy you receive depends on what your doctor and therapists recommend.  Some people start off with 30 minutes a day and build up as they get stronger. Others start off with several hours.  SAR usually provides up to about 3 hours of therapy per day.

Who pays for subacute care?

Medicare or a Medicare Advantage program pays for SAR. Medicare is a federal insurance program that you pay into over the years as you work. The Medicare Advantage programs are private insurance groups.

What can I do if I don’t think I’m ready to go home yet?

When you hear that the insurance coverage is ending for your SAR stay, You may want to make plans to go back home.  If you don’t want to go home because you feel that you haven’t reached the point when you can leave, you can appeal the denial of coverage. The denial of coverage notice includes directions for appealing.

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