Explanations of the words and phrases used by Medicare are in the Medicare Glossary.
Cardiologist — A physician who specializes in conditions that involve the heart and blood vessels, including abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks and congestive heart failure.
Caregiver — An adult (typically a family member or friend) who provides unpaid assistance to another adult who can no longer independently attend to his or her personal needs and/or perform his or her normal activities of daily living.
Care Manager — A health care professional, typically a nurse or social worker, who arranges, monitors, or coordinates long-term care services (also referred to as a geriatric care manager, care coordinator or case manager). A care manager may also assess a patient’s needs and develop a plan of care, subject to approval by the patient’s physician. You can find more information at the Aging Life Care Association website.
Care Plan — The written plan that describes the services and care you need for your health problem. Your plan of care must be prepared or approved by your doctor.
Cash Surrender Value — The amount of money you may be entitled to receive from the insurance company when you terminate a life insurance or annuity policy. The amount of cash value will be determined as stated in the policy.
Catheter — A medical device with a receptacle bag used to control urinary incontinence.
Certified — A long-term care facility, home health agency, or hospice agency that meets the requirements imposed by Medicare and Medicaid is said to be certified. Being certified is not the same as being accredited. Medicare, Medicaid and some long-term care insurance policies only cover care in a certified facility or provided by a certified agency.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) — CNAs are trained and certified to help nurses by providing non-medical assistance to patients, such as help with eating, cleaning and dressing.
Chronically Ill Individual — According to federal law regarding long-term care insurance policies, a chronically-ill individual is someone who, within the preceding 12-month period, has been certified by a licensed health care practitioner as:
- being unable to perform, without substantial assistance from another person, at least two activities of daily living for a period of at least ninety consecutive days due to a loss of functional capacity; or
- requiring substantial supervision to protect such a person from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment.
Chronic Illness or Condition — An illness or other condition with one or more of the following characteristics: permanency, residual disability, requires rehabilitation training, or requires a long period of supervision, observation, or care. Typically, it is a disease or condition that lasts over a long period of time and cannot be cured; it is often associated with disability.
CNA — see Certified Nursing Assistant above.
Codicil — A written amendment to a will.
Cognitive Impairment — Deterioration of intellectual ability, such as disorientation as to people, places or time; impairment of short-term or long-term memory; and/or impairment of one’s ability to reason; that has progressed to the extent that a person requires substantial supervision by another person. Cognitive impairment includes Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia. The existence of cognitive impairment is determined by clinical evidence and standardized tests that reliably measure the person’s impairment. For more information, click on Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.
Coinsurance — For Medicare, it is the percentage of the Medicare-approved amount that you have to pay after you pay the deductible for Part A and/or Part B. For other types of health insurance, it is usually a percentage of billed charges after you pay the deductible. For example, if you have paid the deductible and the insurance company then pays 70 percent of the remaining amount of your claim, your coinsurance is 30 percent.
Community-Based Services — Services designed to help older people live independently in their own homes, such as adult day services and senior centers.
Companionship Services — Companions visit isolated and homebound elders for conversation, reading, and light errands. May also be termed “friendly visitor” services.
Congregate Meal Programs — Nutritional programs that provide lunches for older adults Monday through Friday in senior centers, community centers and schools.
Conservator — Someone appointed by a court to assume responsibility for a child, or for an adult who is not capable of managing his or her finances, medical and personal care, or both.
Continence — Another activity of daily living — The ability to maintain control of bowel and bladder function. Or, when unable to maintain control these functions, the ability to perform associated personal hygiene (including caring for catheter or colostomy bag).
Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) — A retirement community that offers a broad range of services and levels of care based on what each resident needs over time. Sometimes called “life care,” it can range from independent living in an apartment to assisted living to full-time care in a nursing home. Residents move from one setting to another based on their needs. Care in CCRCs can be expensive, with a large payment often required before moving in, and monthly fees thereafter.
Coordination of Benefits — A provision in a health insurance plan that tells which health plan or insurance policy pays first if two health plans or insurance policies cover the same benefits. If one of the plans is Medicare, federal law may determine who pays first.
Copayment — A charge you pay for a specific medical service. For example, you may pay $10 for an office visit or $15 for a prescription and your health plan pays the remainder of the medical charges.
Covered Benefit or Service — A health service or item that is included in an insurance plan or policy, and that is paid for either partially or fully.
Covered Charge — Services or benefits for which a health plan makes either partial or full payment.
CPR — Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation which is attempted if your heart stops or if you stop breathing.
Cueing — Directing or supervising the actions of someone with cognitive impairment (for example, showing them how to eat, reminding them which medications to take at the appropriate times, giving visual or verbal reminders for dressing or toileting, etc.).
Custodial Care (Personal Care) — Care to help people meet their personal needs such as bathing, dressing, eating, and other non-medical care that most people do themselves, such as using eye drops. Someone without professional training may provide this type of care. Medicare does not pay for custodial care and Medicaid pays very little.