Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A is a federal health insurance program that covers inpatient hospital care, hospice care, and home health care. Here's a look at the Part A basics.

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Medicare is a type of health insurance that was created by the government to help cover medical bills for citizens who meet certain requirements. Medicare Part A, part of the Original Medicare, is a government funded hospital insurance that covers in patient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and Religious Nonmedical Health Care Institutions; hospice care services; and home health services.

Who Can Get Medicare Part A?

  • Citizens over 65
  • Citizens under 65 with certain disabilities
  • Citizens with End-Stage Renal Disease

How Much Does Part A Cost?

If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while you were working, you typically don’t have to pay a premium for Part A coverage.

You may be able to purchase Medicare Part A coverage if you are over 65 and meet the citizenship requirement. If you are under 65, you must be disabled and can no longer obtain Part A Medicare coverage for free because you’ve returned to work. The premium for Part A coverage could be as much as $443 per month. If you purchase Part A Medicare Insurance, you typically must also purchase Medicare Part B.

When Can I Enroll in Part A?

You can automatically get Medicare Part A coverage on the first day of the month you turn 65 if you also receive benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). Your Medicare card will come in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday.

On the other hand, if you are under 65 and you are disabled, you will automatically receive Part A once you’ve received Social Security disability benefits or certain RRB benefits for 24 months. Your Medicare card will come in the mail on your 25th month of disability. An exception is made for those with Amyothrophic Later Sclerosis, who automatically receive Part A the same month that disability benefits start.

You might have to sign up for Part A, even if you are eligible to receive it for free. If, for any reason, you’re not receiving Social Security or RRB benefits, you should contact Social Security (or the RRB if you worked for a railroad) 3 months before your 65th birthday to sign up.

How to Purchase Part A

You can purchase Medicare Part A if you aren’t eligible to receive it for free during these times:

  • During the initial enrollment period, from 3 months before you turn 65 up to 3 months after you turn 65.
  • During the general enrollment period. Between January 1 and March 31 each year. This is the general enrollment period.

You should sign up when you are first eligible for Medicare Part A to avoid a penalty increase on your premium with two exceptions.

1. If you waited to enroll in Medicare because you or your spouse were enrolled in an employer’s group health plan, you have 8 months after employment ended or the plan ended to enroll.

2. If you were an international volunteer, you have 6 months after your assignment ends to enroll.

What Does Medicare Part A Cover

  • The cost of a blood transfusion if the hospital must purchase blood for you.
  • Medically-necessary part-time nursing care or physical therapy, speech-language pathology, or occupational therapy.
  • Hospice care for those with a life expectancy of 6 months or less due to a terminal illness.
  • Hospital stay in a semi-private room. This includes meals, general nursing, drugs, and other hospital suppliers.
  • Up to 100 days each benefit period in a skilled nursing facility care including a semi-private room, meals, skilled nursing, rehabilitative services, and other services.

What’s Not Covered By Part A

  • Acupuncture
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Custodial care
  • Most dental care and dentures
  • Routine eye exams, eye refractions, and most eyeglasses
  • Routine foot care
  • Hearing aids and exams
  • Long-term care
  • Routine or annual physical exams
  • Most prescription drugs
  • Syringes or insulin
  • Travel

You can find out more information about Medicare Part A by contacting your local Social Security office or by visiting www.medicare.gov.

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