Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A provides hospital coverage. It will help pay for “room and board” fees for any hospital stays. Most individuals receive premium-free Part A. As long as an individual has worked for ten years and paid Medicare taxes during that time, Part A will remain premium-free. However, if an individual has not met that requirement, Part A can have a substantial premium.

Besides covering your inpatient care in hospitals, Medicare Part A covers critical access hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities (excluding custodial or long-term care), and also helps cover hospice care and partial home health care. The most important thing is to meet the conditions that make you eligible for these benefits.

What is

Medicare Part A?

Cartoon artwork explaining Medicare Part A

In addition to inpatient hospital stays, Medicare Part A may also cover limited, short-term home healthcare and skilled nursing care.

For those who do not qualify for premium-free Part A, the premium is based on how many quarters the individual paid into Medicare taxes.

If an individual has accumulated less than thirty qualifying quarters, the premium for Part A is $506 each month. Those who have worked between thirty and thirty-nine quarters will pay $259 each month.

Medicare Part A Benefits

We’ve said that Part A covers inpatient services, but let’s dissect what that includes.

Part A benefits include: 

Individuals must meet their Part A deductible prior to coverage. After the deductible has been met, Part A will pay for 80% of the expenses. However, there are limits on how many days are covered.

The first sixty days of inpatient stay are paid in full after the deductible. Days 61-90 will cost the beneficiary $371 each day. After that, Medicare offers coverage for sixty extra lifetime reserve days.

After day 90, beneficiaries will pay $742 each day. When the lifetime benefit has been exhausted, Medicare offers no coverage and the beneficiary must pay entirely out-of-pocket.

Once the beneficiary has been out of the hospital for 60 consecutive days, a new benefit period begins. This means that the deductible must be met again prior to any coverage.

Who is eligible for Medicare Part A?

To be eligible for Medicare Part A, an individual must be a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant with a minimum of five years of residency. Individuals who fall into one of those categories are eligible for Part A when they turn 65 years old. If an individual is eligible for Part A, they are also eligible for Part B.

Individuals who have been receiving disability benefits for 24 months are also eligible for Medicare, regardless of age. These individuals will automatically be enrolled in Medicare at the start of their 25th month on disability.

Individuals with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) will automatically be enrolled in Medicare with no delay. Individuals with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) are eligible upon diagnosis, but enrollment is not automatic.

How much does Medicare Part A cost?

Most individuals receive premium-free Part A, so they do not pay anything for this coverage. To be eligible for premium-free Part A, an individual must have worked and paid Medicare taxes for ten years or 40 quarters. (This does not have to be consecutive years or quarters.) If an individual has met this requirement, Part A is premium-free.

For those who have not met the requirement, the premium for Part A will depend on how many years or quarters were worked. If an individual has worked thirty quarters (7.5 years) and paid Medicare taxes during that time, the premium for Part A is $259 each month. Those who have worked and paid Medicare taxes for less than thirty quarters will pay the maximum premium, $471 each month.

How much is the Medicare Part A deductible?

Currently, the Part A deductible is $1600. Individuals will begin paying the deductible when they are admitted as a hospital inpatient. The benefit period starts at this time and continues until the individual has stayed out of the hospital for 60 days. Skilled nursing facilities also count as part of the benefit period.

After 60 days of being hospital-free, the Part A benefit period resets, and so does the Part A deductible.

Avoiding the Part A Deductible

Many individuals want to know if they can avoid paying the Part A deductible when they become an inpatient. Hospitals are prohibited from denying treatment based on an individual’s ability to pay. This protection has been made available from The Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act.

Individuals are not required to pay the Part A deductible prior to receiving care. Once the Part A benefits are exhausted some facilities may require a prepayment plan. This also applies to individuals who do not have any form of health insurance, though the specific policy will vary by hospital. Each hospital employs a billing specialist that can assist individuals with payment plans.

Get help with

Medicare Part A

We’ve gone over a lot of information, but it’s normal to have many questions regarding your Medicare Part A coverage. Our agents are available to answer all of your Medicare questions. We can help simplify how Medicare works and give you a breakdown of your coverage options.

While we cannot apply for Medicare Parts A and B for you, we can help walk you through the process. We’ll have a few questions about your current situation, and then make recommendations based on those answers.

You don’t have to figure all of this out on your own! Medicare Part A is just the beginning of the Medicare journey. Call one of our agents and we will help you begin the process and stay with you well after your enrollment is complete.

Questions to be advised on:

The Missouri Medicare Advisor website character Cam Meers discussing Questions to be advised on.
No, the Part A deductible works differently than other common deductibles. This deductible must be met once per benefit period. A benefit period begins once an individual has been admitted for an inpatient hospital stay. The benefit period does not end until that individual has been hospital-free for 60 days. At that time, the benefit period renews, as does the Part A deductible.

You can apply for Medicare Part A 3 months before your 65th birthday. Even if you choose to remain employed and have an employer-sponsored health plan, you should still enroll in Part A if you receive it premium-free. This may be beneficial if the Part A deductible is less than the employer-sponsored deductible. If you work for a small employer (less than 20 employees), you must apply for Medicare Parts A and B to avoid a penalty.

You’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B if you have been receiving Social Security benefits. Otherwise, you’ll need to apply for Medicare through the Social Security Administration.

Yes, you can sign up for only Part A by applying online or by contacting the Social Security office.
No, enrolling in Medicare is not mandatory. However, if you are eligible for premium-free Part A, you might as well enjoy the benefits!
Maybe. If you do not have other creditable health coverage and do not enroll in Medicare as soon as you are eligible, you may be penalized. You will need to know if your current coverage is creditable.
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