Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A is sometimes known as hospital insurance. 

Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing care, hospice care, and home healthcare services. You typically pay a deductible and coinsurance/copayments.

What it covers

Part A covers: 

  • Inpatient hospital care — This is care you receive after you’re admitted into a hospital. You’re covered for up to 90 days each benefit period and 60 lifetime reserve days. Part A also covers up to 190 lifetime days in an approved psychiatric hospital.
  • Skilled nursing facility care — Room, board, and certain services are covered. You’re covered for up to 100 days each benefit period. To qualify for this coverage, you must have spent at least three consecutive days at the hospital within 30 days of admission to the nursing facility, and need their services.
  • Home health care — You’re covered for up to 100 days of daily care or an unlimited amount of intermittent care. To qualify, you had to have spent at least three consecutive days in the hospital within 14 days of receiving home health care. It is possible to get home health care through Part B if you don’t meet all the requirements for Part A. 
  • Hospice care — If a provider determines you are terminally ill, this is care you can receive that is covered under Part A. Your care is covered for as long as your provider says you need it.

Does Part A cost anything?

For most people, there is no premium for Part A. 

If you have worked for at least 10 years, you shouldn’t have to pay anything monthly to receive coverage. 

There is a deductible, however. In 2020, that deductible is $1,408. 

You’re also responsible for some coinsurance/copayments. 

There are some insurance plans called Medicare Supplements that can take care of all of these costs.

How do I enroll in Part A?

Some people are enrolled automatically, but some people have to sign up for it. 

If you have, or will be getting, benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board at least four months before you turn 65 you will be automatically enrolled in Part A. 

If you’re going to be eligible for Medicare due to a disability, you’ll be automatically enrolled if you have received disability benefits from Social Security for 24 months or certain disability benefits from the RRB for 24 months. 

Anyone with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) is automatically enrolled the month their disability benefits begin. 

Everyone else will have to enroll manually. 

You can enroll in Medicare at www.socialsecurity.gov, by calling them at 1-800-772-1213, or in person at your local Social Security Office.

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