Does Medicare Pay for Cardiac Rehab?

Yes, Medicare covers cardiac rehab services, if you meet specific heart condition criteria. This article guides you through eligibility, extent of coverage, and what costs Medicare will – and won’t – take on, specifically answering the question: does Medicare pay for cardiac rehab?


Key Takeaways

  • Medicare provides coverage for cardiac rehabilitation programs, including general and intensive cardiac rehab, for eligible patients with specific heart conditions and procedures, including heart attacks, coronary artery bypass graft, valve repairs or replacements, and percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty.


  • Costs for Medicare-covered cardiac rehab may vary; patients typically pay 20% coinsurance after meeting the Part B deductible, with the possibility of additional out-of-pocket expenses depending on whether services are received under Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan.


  • Cardiac rehab is a comprehensive program that includes exercise, education, counseling, and medical supervision, aimed at improving heart health and aiding recovery post-heart condition while being limited to a maximum of 72 approved sessions over 36 weeks under Medicare.

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Medicare and Cardiac Rehab: The Basics

Cardiac rehabilitation, often referred to as cardiac rehab, is a customized program designed to assist individuals with heart conditions. It incorporates physical activity, monitored by medical professionals, and includes education and counseling on heart health. An integral part of the recovery journey for many patients, Medicare has steps in place to provide coverage for eligible patients, encompassing both general and intensive cardiac rehabilitation (ICR) programs.

Medicare’s coverage extends to specific heart conditions and procedures, including heart lung transplant. The procedures include:


  • Acute myocardial infarction (AMI)
  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) for serious heart conditions
  • Heart valve repair or replacement
  • Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA)


Keep in mind that Medicare only provides partial or full coverage for cardiac rehab programs conducted in a doctor’s office or a hospital outpatient setting.


Medicare and Cardiac Rehab- The Basics

Eligibility Criteria

When it comes to Medicare coverage, eligibility is key. Certain heart conditions and procedures qualify for cardiac rehab coverage. These encompass patients who have:


  • Received a documented diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction within the preceding 12 months
  • Undergone coronary bypass surgery
  • Been diagnosed with stable angina pectoris
  • Had heart valve replacement or repair
  • Undergone percutaneous coronary intervention
  • Been diagnosed with stable chronic heart failure


Patients must have a diagnosis of a heart condition that is known to benefit from these programs to be eligible for Medicare’s cardiac rehab coverage. This includes those who have experienced a heart attack or coronary artery bypass surgery, among others. Chest pain, particularly stable angina pectoris, is one condition that can make a patient eligible for cardiac rehab coverage.

Phase II cardiac rehabilitation is a comprehensive outpatient program that consists of:


  • A medical evaluation
  • Prescribed exercise
  • Cardiac risk factor modification
  • Education
  • Counseling


It is initiated 1-3 weeks after hospital discharge and provides appropriate electrocardiographic monitoring for patients.


Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs

Intensive cardiac rehabilitation programs present a more comprehensive outlook on cardiac rehab. Characterized by their higher intensity, these programs can involve as many as six sessions per day, totaling up to 72 sessions. In comparison, standard programs generally emphasize lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise.

An intensive cardiac rehab program typically consists of:


  • Physician-prescribed daily exercise
  • A personalized exercise regimen
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Immunizations
  • Smoking cessation programs


The individual’s heart condition determines their eligibility for these intensive programs. Enrollment requires a prescription from a physician. Medicare Part B provides coverage for intensive cardiac rehab for beneficiaries who have suffered an acute myocardial infarction within the past 12 months, thus ensuring inclusion in the program for those who meet the criteria.

Costs Associated with Cardiac Rehab Under Medicare

Examining the financial aspect of cardiac rehab reveals that costs can vary. Costs can vary depending on the type of Medicare plan and the setting in which the rehab takes place.

Under original Medicare, 80% of the Medicare-approved amount for cardiac rehab is covered. However, there may be a need for out-of-pocket expenses after the Part B deductible has been met.


Out of-pocket cost for cardiac rehab



Grasping the potential offerings of Medicare Advantage Plans is also crucial. These plans offer coverage for up to two, one-hour sessions per day for cardiac rehab. This amounts to a total of 36 sessions over a 36-week period. However, the specifics of this coverage can vary based on the individual plan.

When comparing costs, original Medicare covers 80% of the cardiac rehab costs. In contrast, coverage and out-of-pocket expenses under Medicare Advantage plans may vary depending on the specific plan’s policy details.


Original Medicare Costs

Under Original Medicare, specifically Medicare Part B, 80% of the costs for cardiac rehab are covered. This coverage, however, comes with certain stipulations. Patients are responsible for a 20% coinsurance after meeting their Part B deductible, which amounts to $240 in 2024.

Furthermore, if treatment takes place in a hospital outpatient department, the copayment must not exceed the Part A hospital deductible, which is $1,632 in 2024.

The Medicare-approved amount for cardiac rehabilitation services is determined by Original Medicare, and subsequently, 80% of this amount is covered. This approach ensures that a significant portion of the cost is covered, but it’s important for patients to be aware of potential out-of-pocket expenses.


Medicare Advantage Plans

While Original Medicare provides defined coverage for cardiac rehab, Medicare Advantage Plans can offer additional flexibility. Legally, these plans are required to provide coverage for all services included in Original Medicare, including Medicare cover cardiac rehabilitation. However, the specifics of this coverage can differ based on the individual plan.

Similar to Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans also cover 80% of the costs for cardiac rehab. Yet, patients under a Medicare Advantage plan can expect to cover approximately 20% of the expenses related to cardiac rehabilitation out-of-pocket. As these plans can vary, it is advisable to verify the coverage details with your specific plan.

Components of a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

Cardiac rehab programs are versatile, blending various components to foster heart health. These include a variety of exercises tailored to the health status of each individual, as well as education and counseling on heart health.

It also consists of the critical element of medical supervision to ensure the safety of patients during their participation in exercise programs.


Exercise Programs

Exercise forms a fundamental component of cardiac rehab programs. These programs encompass a variety of exercises that are customized to the health status of each individual, including aerobic exercises and muscle strengthening activities.


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The benefits of these exercises are manifold. Aerobic exercises enhance cardiorespiratory fitness and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Resistance training, on the other hand, can lead to improved muscle strength, endurance, exercise performance, and overall physical function.

The exercise regimen in a cardiac rehabilitation program is personalized, taking into account the unique characteristics of each individual.

Typically, this includes a warm-up, stretching, and 30-40 minutes of aerobic exercise. As the program progresses, the exercise regimen is gradually adjusted to increase in intensity and/or duration according to the individual’s fitness level and medical history. Regular monitoring of heart rate and blood pressure is conducted to ensure safety during exercise.


Education and Counseling

Education and counseling form integral parts of a cardiac rehab program. These services are aimed at imparting knowledge about heart health to patients and offering support for making necessary lifestyle changes to aid in recovery and prevent future cardiac issues.


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During counseling, individuals are advised to make modifications such as:


  • following a heart-healthy diet
  • engaging in regular physical activity
  • monitoring weight and fluid intake
  • reducing excess weight
  • discontinuing tobacco use


Counseling plays a substantial role in cardiac rehabilitation as it aids individuals in stress relief and enhances their mental well-being, which is essential for heart health and overall recovery. The impact of education and counseling in cardiac rehab is determined by:


  • Evaluating the patient outcomes of educational interventions
  • Analyzing the improvement in patient’s cardiac disease management
  • Assessing the effectiveness of psychological and educational approaches on the patient’s health status.


Medical Supervision

Ensuring the safety of patients during their participation in exercise programs, medical supervision is a critical aspect of cardiac rehab. The staff providing this supervision must possess specialized training in basic and advanced life support, in accordance with the guidelines set forth by Medicare.

Moreover, these programs must have essential life-saving equipment including oxygen, an automated external defibrillator (AED), and the necessary equipment for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The staff in cardiac rehab programs have a critical role to play. They are responsible for:


  • Monitoring heart rate, pulse, breathing, and other vital signs during exercise
  • Providing holistic care to patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation
  • Ensuring that patients can safely participate in the program
  • Continuously assessing the health condition of patients


This level of supervision ensures that patients receive the necessary care and support during their rehabilitation journey.

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Duration and Frequency of Cardiac Rehab Sessions

It’s important to consider the duration and frequency of cardiac rehab sessions covered by Medicare. Medicare initially covers up to 36 sessions of cardiac rehab, accessible for eligible beneficiaries. Patients usually undergo 2 to 3 sessions per week, and this treatment may continue for a duration of 12 to 18 weeks.

The number of covered sessions can be extended up to 72 sessions if recommended by a physician. This allowance caters to patients who may require a more prolonged period of cardiac rehab. However, the maximum number of cardiac rehabilitation sessions that Medicare will cover is 72 sessions over a course of 36 weeks, and typically, there is no coverage beyond this limit.


Standard Coverage

Medicare provides coverage for 2-3 cardiac rehab sessions per week for a duration of 12-18 weeks, with a total of up to 36 sessions. This standard coverage includes a comprehensive program that covers heart valve repairs and coronary artery bypass. Coverage is at 80% of the Medicare-approved amount, with patients accountable for the remaining 20%.


Cardiac rehab qualifications



Individuals are eligible for standard cardiac rehabilitation coverage under Medicare if they have experienced a heart attack within the past 12 months, undergone coronary artery bypass surgery, or have current stable angina. The coverage is limited to phase II cardiac rehabilitation. If deemed medically necessary, a doctor can recommend an additional 36 sessions within the same period.


Extended Coverage

For some patients, extended coverage for cardiac rehab sessions may be necessary. To apply for this extended coverage, patients need to verify their eligibility for intensive rehabilitation services. If they are found eligible, Medicare may cover the extended services.

Physicians are required to furnish an individualized treatment plan, which must be reviewed and signed every 30 days. This plan should outline the prescribed exercises, cardiac rehabilitation items and services provided, as well as the modification of cardiac risk factors, in order to authorize extended cardiac rehabilitation sessions under Medicare.

Medicare approval for extended cardiac rehabilitation sessions is contingent upon the discretion of the contractor. Additionally, for it to be deemed medically necessary, it must fall within the limit of a total of 72 sessions over 36 weeks.

The maximum number of cardiac rehabilitation sessions that Medicare will cover is 72 sessions over a course of 36 weeks, as prescribed by a physician.

Comparing Cardiac Rehab to Other Rehabilitation Services

Understanding how cardiac rehab, crucial for heart health, compares to other rehabilitation services like physical and occupational therapy is worthwhile.

Cardiac rehabilitation typically involves a specialized team consisting of:


  • Exercise physiologists
  • Cardiac physiotherapists
  • Cardiac rehabilitation nurses
  • Nutrition advisers


These professionals are specifically designed to cover cardiac needs and cater to the intricate requirements of heart patients.

Conversely, physical therapy is administered by physical therapists, while occupational therapy involves therapists who aid patients in reintegrating into daily activities and enhancing overall well-being.

One key difference between cardiac rehab and other rehabilitation services is the monitoring procedures. Cardiac rehabilitation generally involves the monitoring of the heart’s tracing and blood pressure during sessions, a level of surveillance that is not typically present in physical therapy sessions.

The objectives of these services also differ. The objectives of cardiac rehabilitation are centered on stress management, mitigating the risk of future heart issues, and enhancing cardiovascular well-being. Conversely, the objectives of speech therapy primarily revolve around reinstating communication skills and other functions affected by speech and language disorders.


Physical Therapy vs. Cardiac Rehab


Cardiac rehab staffing guidelines Physical therapy and cardiac rehab, while both forms of rehabilitation, serve different purposes and cater to different patient needs.

Cardiac rehab is primarily centered on promoting lifestyle changes for a healthy heart, whereas physical therapy is aimed at addressing musculoskeletal issues in order to enhance mobility.

Physical therapy commonly addresses conditions such as sprains, fractures, bursitis, tendonitis, chronic pain, neurological disorders, and orthopedic surgery recovery, whereas cardiac rehab is primarily focused on cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, and heart valve repair or replacement.

The supervision in these two types of rehabilitation also differs. Cardiac rehabilitation entails medical supervision from specialists in the cardiovascular field, while the supervision in physical therapy primarily focuses on musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Both services, however, may incorporate education and counseling components to facilitate the patient’s treatment and recovery.


Other Rehabilitation Services and Medicare Coverage

The specific condition and treatment plan determine the range of rehabilitation services Medicare covers. This coverage includes a range of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, encompassing inpatient care following surgery or severe illness, as well as outpatient therapies like physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and occupational therapy.

Medicare provides coverage for outpatient therapies, including physical and occupational therapy, once the annual Part B deductible has been met. Medicare Part B covers 80 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for these services, with no yearly limit on the amount it will pay for medically necessary services.

Medicare does provide coverage for speech-language pathology services when they are deemed medically necessary and administered by a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Similarly, to be eligible for Medicare coverage of pulmonary rehabilitation, individuals must have a diagnosis of moderate-to-very-severe respiratory conditions and a doctor’s determination that the rehabilitation is necessary.

At-Home Cardiac Rehab: Pros and Cons

With advancing technology and increasing accessibility to healthcare, at-home cardiac rehab is gaining popularity. But is it right for everyone? Home-based cardiac rehab offers certain benefits, including convenience and flexibility.


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However, it also lacks the hands-on support and monitoring that a formal program provides. The equipment required for at-home cardiac rehabilitation generally consists of a treadmill, elliptical, bike, stair stepper, and resistance bands.


Benefits of At-Home Cardiac Rehab

Several advantages come with at-home cardiac rehab. These include:


  • Certain components of cardiac rehabilitation, such as counseling and consistent physical activity, can be efficiently carried out at home.
  • It enhances patient comfort and convenience by eliminating the requirement for travel.
  • It offers flexibility in scheduling exercise sessions.
  • It provides a more personalized and comfortable experience.


Research indicates that at-home cardiac rehab has a positive effect on patient adherence to the rehabilitation program. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who may face challenges in traveling to a medical center.


Limitations and Risks

Despite the several benefits at-home cardiac rehab offers, it carries certain risks. Engaging in exercise at home without medical supervision may present potential risks for individuals with heart conditions.

The specific risks associated with at-home cardiac rehab for heart patients appear to be minimal, and it may be a suitable choice for carefully selected clinically stable low- to moderate-risk patients. However, there are some absolute contraindications to consider, including:


  • Unstable angina
  • Staged cardiac procedure (PCI and surgery)
  • Complex ventricular arrhythmias
  • Severe conditions


Patients can minimize the risks of at-home cardiac rehabilitation by participating in cardiac rehabilitation to prevent another heart attack and establish heart-healthy habits.

Contrary to common misconceptions, cardiac rehabilitation, including at-home programs, is specifically designed to mitigate the risk of another heart attack and reduce the likelihood of complications, rather than exacerbate it.


In conclusion, cardiac rehabilitation is a crucial component of heart health management and recovery. Covered by Medicare, these programs offer a comprehensive approach to managing heart conditions, encompassing exercise, education, counseling, and medical supervision.

Whether administered in a clinical setting or at home, cardiac rehab provides individuals with the tools they need to live healthier, more active lives following a heart procedure or diagnosis.

Frequently Asked Questions



How many visits of cardiac rehab does Medicare cover?

Medicare covers up to 36 sessions of cardiac rehabilitation, with up to two one-hour sessions per day, over a 36-week period. If medically necessary, an additional 36 sessions may be covered.


What diagnosis qualifies for cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehabilitation qualifies for those who have had a heart attack, stable angina, received a stent or angioplasty, or heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. It is also recommended after heart surgery or heart conditions such as coronary artery disease, angina, or heart failure.


Do you have to pay for cardiac rehab?

Yes, you may have to pay a 20% coinsurance for cardiac rehabilitation after meeting your Part B deductible. It is covered by Original Medicare at 80% of the Medicare-approved amount.


How many weeks does cardiac rehab last?

Cardiac rehab programs generally last about three months, with sessions two or three times a week. They typically last 30 to 45 minutes and can range anywhere from 2 to 8 months.


What does cardiac rehabilitation involve?

Cardiac rehabilitation involves supervised physical activity, counseling, and education on heart health, aimed at assisting individuals with heart conditions.

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Russell Noga
( Medicare Expert )

Russell Noga is the CEO of ZRN Health & Financial Services, and head content editor of several Medicare insurance online publications. He has over 15 years of experience as a licensed Medicare insurance broker helping Medicare beneficiaries learn about Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap insurance, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.