Medicare Part A Basics

Medicare Part A is the part of Original Medicare that provides hospital coverage. Part A covers inpatient care in a hospital, skilled nursing facility care, inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility (not custodial or long-term care), Hospice care, and home health care.[1]

TIP: In most cases, you need Part A to get Part B. Medicare Part B is the other part of Original Medicare along with Part A. Part B is medical insurance, and Part A is hospital insurance. Together Parts A and B provide all the essential coverage a person will need from routine check-ups to hospital visits.

What Does Medicare Part A Cover?

Medicare Part A provides coverage for:

  • Inpatient care in a hospital
  • Inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility (not custodial or long-term care)
  • Hospice care
  • Home health care
  • Inpatient care in a religious non-medical health care institution

Copays, coinsurance, and deductibles may apply to each of the above services. You can learn more about Part A costs below.

NOTE: If the hospital gets blood from a blood bank at no charge, you won’t have to pay for it or replace it. If the hospital has to buy blood for you, you must either pay the hospital costs for the first 3 units of blood you get in a calendar year or have someone else donate the blood.

Medicare Part A Costs Overview

Medicare Part A typically doesn’t have a monthly premium, just other cost-sharing like copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working for a certain amount of time, you are entitled to “premium-free Part A.”

If you aren’t eligible for premium-free Part A, costs are set each year. For example, for 2020 will pay a premium of either $252 or up to $458 each month per person depending on how long you paid Medicare taxes while working.

Although for most people Part A doesn’t have a Premium, it can still cost money due to out-of-pocket costs. For those who are looking for help with out-of-pocket costs, there are supplemental plans like Medicare Advantage and Medigap that can help cover Part A costs and assistance programs based on income.

Part A Cost Assistance: Part A costs can also be lowered based on income via state-based Medicare Savings Programs.

Part A Late Enrollment Penalty: Medicare Part A is subject to a late enrollment penalty for those who don’t sign up when they first become eligible. If you don’t automatically qualify for Part A (and therefore don’t qualify for Part A for free), for example, if you haven’t worked and paid Medicare taxes long enough, you’ll have to sign up for Part A during your initial enrollment period during the 7 months surrounding your 65th birthday. If you don’t sign up during initial enrollment, you’ll owe a penalty on your Part A premium.

Medicare Part A Premium

If you aren’t eligible for premium-free Part A, costs are set each year. For example, for 2020 will pay a premium of either $259 ($252 in 2020) or up to $457 ($458 in 2020) each month per person depending on how long you paid Medicare taxes while working.

Other Medicare Part A Cost-Sharing

Part A has the following cost-sharing amounts.

Part A Deductible and Coinsurance Amounts for Calendar Years 2020 and 2021
by Type of Cost Sharing
2020 2021
Inpatient hospital deductible $1,408 $1,484
Daily coinsurance for 61st-90th Day $352 $371
Daily coinsurance for lifetime reserve days $704 $742
Skilled Nursing Facility coinsurance $176.00 $185.50
Citations

  1. What Part A covers. Medicare.Gov.