Medicare Part A is your hospital coverage. It provides you with affordable inpatient care. Here at Boomer Benefits, we tell our clients to think of it as “room and board” in the hospital. It’s going to cover a semi-private room with a bed for you, and all your regular meals while you are there.
What Does Medicare Part A Cover?
In addition to inpatient care, Medicare Part A also covers post-hospital skilled nursing and short-term post-hospital home health care, so long as it is medically necessary. Part A covers hospice services and blood transfusions, too.
Medicare does NOT cover long-term care, such as extended stays in a nursing home. Individuals can consider purchasing long-term care insurance if this is something they want to plan for.
Bottom line: what is covered by Part A is generally hospital-related for immediate or acute care of an injury or illness.
How Much Does Medicare Part A Cost?
Most beneficiaries will pay nothing for Medicare Part A. We all pay taxes during our working years that are specifically for our future healthcare coverage during retirement. These taxes go to offset the cost of Part A later on.
As long as you have worked for 10 years in your lifetime in the United States, you will generally pay nothing at all for Part A. If you do not have this work history, you can purchase Part A. Read more about the cost of Part A on our Medicare costs page.
When do I enroll in Medicare Part A?
Enrolling in Medicare Part A is automatic for people already taking Social Security income benefits. When this happens, you’ll open your mailbox 2 – 3 months before you turn 65 and find your card waiting for you.
You’ll want to keep your eye on the mail for your card. It is a red, white and blue card printed on heavy card stock. It is okay to laminate the card when you receive it so that it will stay in good shape over the years of being in your wallet or purse.
If you are not already receiving Social Security income benefits or Railroad Retirement income benefits yet, then you will need to actively sign up for Part A at age 65. You can do this at the Social Security website.
What is my Medicare Cost-sharing under Part A?
Your Medicare Part A coverage will pay for a great deal. However, you will have some cost-sharing as well that you are responsible for.
Each year CMS determines the Medicare Part A deductible and coinsurance that you will be responsible for during the following year. These are the cost-sharing amounts that you must pay when using your Part A benefits. In 2018, you will pay:
- a $1340 deductible for each inpatient hospital stay when you have not been in the hospital during the previous 60 days.
- $335 per day for days 61 – 90 of a consecutive hospital stay
- $670 per day for days 91 – 150 of a consecutive hospital stay
- Any and all costs for day 150 and beyond
For skilled nursing facility stays, Medicare covers the first 20 days. Your daily copay in 2018 for days 21- 100 will be $167.50.
Fortunately, both Medigap policies and Part C Advantage plans will help cover these costs. Either type of plan will help you to significantly reduce your financial exposure.