July 12, 2021

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) issued a report in June 2021 entitled, “COVID-19 Had a Devastating Impact on Medicare Beneficiaries in Nursing Homes During 2020,” that found that of the approximately 3.1 million Medicare beneficiaries who resided in nursing homes in 2020, 42% of them had or likely had COVID-19, according to diagnoses on their Medicare claims. Of those 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries, 762,594 were confirmed to have COVID-19 and 532,901 were diagnosed as likely having it, meaning COVID-19 was suspected but not confirmed by a positive test result.

Overall in the United States, about 6% percent of the U.S. population was reported to have been infected with COVID-19 by the end of December 2020.

The OIG’s Report found:

  • Two in five Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes were diagnosed with either COVID-19 or likely COVID-19 in 2020.
  • Almost 1,000 more beneficiaries died per day in April 2020 than in April 2019.
  • Overall mortality in nursing homes increased to 22% in 2020 from 17% in 2019 (a 32% increase).
  • About half of Black, Hispanic, and Asian beneficiaries in nursing homes had or likely had COVID-19, compared to 41% of White beneficiaries.
  • Understanding the pandemic’s effects on nursing home residents is necessary if tragedies like this are to be averted.

In total, just over 21,000 Medicare beneficiaries were diagnosed as having or likely having COVID-19 from January through March 2020. By the end of June, there were almost 419,000 overall. The number of new COVID-19 and likely COVID-19 cases grew even higher at the end of the year. On average, more than 5,800 Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes were being diagnosed each day in November. In December, the number topped 6,600 per day. By the end of December, the total number of cases (1.3 million) was about 62 times more than it had been at the end of March.

In November, 5.1 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes died (in November 2019, 3.6 percent had died) and in December that increased to 6.2 percent (in December 2019, 3.8% had died).

Forty-three percent of female Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes had or likely had COVID-19 in 2020 compared to 41% for male beneficiaries. Mortality rose for both females and males during the pandemic. In 2020, the mortality rate for female beneficiaries in nursing homes reached 21%, up from the pre-pandemic rate in 2019 of 16%. The mortality rate for male beneficiaries increased to 24% from 19%.

Dually eligible beneficiaries—those enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid—were much more likely than Medicare-only beneficiaries to contract COVID-19. Fifty-six percent of dually eligible beneficiaries in nursing homes had or likely had COVID-19 in 2020, compared to 29% of Medicare-only beneficiaries. Although each group’s mortality rate rose during the pandemic, the increase was greater for dually eligible beneficiaries (26% of dually eligible beneficiaries in nursing homes died in 2020, up from 19% in 2019).


If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home in the United States due to an infection acquired in a nursing home such as COVID-19, nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, or nursing home fraud, you should promptly contact a local nursing home claim attorney in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home claim on your behalf, if appropriate.

Visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers (nursing home claim lawyers) in your U.S. state who may assist you with your nursing home claim, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959.

Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.