Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A is the hospital insurance component of Original Medicare. Part A covers inpatient care, including stays at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. It also includes home health and hospice care. Most people do not pay a monthly fee, or premium, for Medicare Part A.

Christian Simmons, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
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APA Simmons, C. (2022, April 21). Medicare Part A. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved May 20, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/original-medicare/part-a/

MLA Simmons, Christian. "Medicare Part A." RetireGuide.com, 21 Apr 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/original-medicare/part-a/.

Chicago Simmons, Christian. "Medicare Part A." RetireGuide.com. Last modified April 21, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/original-medicare/part-a/.

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Key Takeaways
  • Medicare Part A is your hospital insurance and will cover inpatient care while you are hospitalized.
  • Part A also covers limited stays in skilled nursing facilities, hospice care and home health care.
  • Part A is premium-free to most Americans as long as they worked and paid Medicare taxes for 40 quarters or are married to someone who is eligible.

What Does Medicare Part A Cover?

Medicare Part A is the emergency insurance portion of Original Medicare. It provides coverage for hospitalization, hospice care, nursing facility care and home health care.

Inpatient Hospital Care Coverage

After you pay your $1,556 deductible, Medicare covers all hospitalization costs for 60 days. You begin paying a portion, called coinsurance, after that.

Medicare-covered hospital services include:
  • Semi-private rooms
  • Meals
  • General nursing
  • Drugs as part of your inpatient treatment
  • Other hospital services and supplies

Skilled Nursing Facility Care

Medicare Part A covers skilled nursing facility care under specific circumstances for a limited time. It does not cover extended nursing home stays or long-term care.

To qualify, your doctor must decide you need daily skilled care — such as physical or speech therapy — after hospitalization. Medicare will cover at least some of these costs for up to 100 days.

Home Health Care Coverage

Medicare Part A will cover home health care when your doctor orders these services for you. Services are coordinated through a health care agency.

This doesn’t include around-the-clock in-home care or assistance with tasks of everyday living such as bathing, dressing or using the bathroom.

Home health care services covered with Part A include:
  • Part-time or intermittent skilled nursing
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech-language services
  • Medical social services
  • Durable medical equipment

After meeting your deductible, Medicare generally pays for all home health care services. However, there may be a coinsurance payment for durable medical equipment.

Hospice Care Coverage

Most Medicare beneficiaries pay little to nothing for hospice care.

To qualify, you must be terminally ill with a life expectancy of six months or less. You and your family must also work with a hospice team and develop a plan of care that meets your needs.

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Medicare Part A Enrollment & Eligibility

Most Americans become eligible for Part A when they turn 65. Some people with certain disabilities – like ALS or end-stage renal disease – are eligible before they reach that age.

How to Sign Up for Medicare Part A

You can sign up for Part A by contacting Social Security. You can do this by visiting their website or by calling 800-772-1213. If you have already been receiving Social Security, then you should automatically be enrolled in Part A when you reach 65. Otherwise, you will have to enroll on your own.

Read Our Guide on How to Sign Up for Medicare

General Enrollment Period

If you are new to Medicare, you can first enroll during a seven-month window that stretches from the three months leading up to your birthday month to the three months after. You are penalized if you are eligible but don’t enroll during this initial enrollment period.

If you don’t sign up during this period, you can sign up during the Medicare general enrollment period that lasts from Jan. 31 to March. 1. Your coverage will begin on July 1.

Costs & Deductibles for Medicare Part A in 2022

Most people get premium-free Part A coverage. But if you worked less than 10 years in the U.S. before turning 65, Part A may cost you.

If you paid Medicare payroll taxes for less than 30 quarters — about 7.5 years — the standard Part A premium is $499. If you paid Medicare taxes for 30 to 39 quarters, the premium is $274.

Part A includes a $1,556 deductible for everyone. This is the cost you pay before Medicare covers anything.

Inpatient Hospital Care
  • Days 1 to 60: You pay nothing after reaching your deductible.
  • Days 61 to 90: $389 coinsurance each day per benefit period.
  • Days 91 and Beyond: $778 coinsurance per each lifetime reserve day.
  • After Lifetime Reserve Days: You pay all costs.
Skilled Nursing Facility Stay
  • Days 1 to 20: You pay nothing after reaching your deductible.
  • Days 21 to 100: $194.50 coinsurance each day per benefit period.
  • Days 101 and Beyond: You pay all costs.
Home Health Care
  • You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for durable medical equipment (DME).

What Does Medicare Part A Not Cover?

A major area that Part A does not cover is long-term care. Temporary stays in a hospital or skilled nursing facility can be covered, but Medicare will not cover a permanent move to a nursing home or other similar facility.

Custodial care, which includes care for everyday activities like eating and bathing, is also not covered under Part A.

What Is Not Covered Under Part A?
  • Long-Term Care
  • Custodial Care
  • Private Rooms
  • First Three Pints of Blood Not from a Blood Bank

There are also some smaller parts of staying in a hospital that aren’t covered. For example, According to AARP, Part A will only guarantee you a semi-private room during a hospitalization and does not cover private rooms.

Any personal items not provided for free by the hospital are also not covered.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medicare Part A

Is Medicare Part A free?
If you or a spouse worked while paying Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters, then you should be eligible to receive Part A without paying a monthly premium. If you worked and paid taxes for 30 to 39 quarters, then you will pay a reduced premium for Part A. If you worked less than that, you would have to pay the full premium.
How do you sign up for only Medicare Part A?
There is an option to only receive Part A coverage without Part B. If you are already receiving Social Security when you turn 65, you will automatically be enrolled in both. But, when you receive your Medicare card, there should be directions on the card to drop Part B coverage. You will then need to send the card back.
How do you disenroll from Medicare Part A?
Remember that most beneficiaries do not pay the Part A premium. You typically cannot disenroll if you are not paying a premium. But if you do pay a premium for Part A, you have the option to disenroll by contacting Social Security or by following the instructions to send back your Medicare card.
Are you automatically enrolled in Part A?
If you are already receiving Social Security at the time, you become eligible for Medicare, then you will be automatically enrolled in Part A. If you are not already receiving Social Security, then you have a window to enroll in Medicare that begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends three months after. You will be penalized if you don’t enroll during your initial window of eligibility.
Last Modified: April 21, 2022

9 Cited Research Articles

  1. AARP. (n.d.). What Services Are Not Covered Under Medicare Part A? Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-qa-tool/services-not-covered-by-medicare-part-a/
  2. Social Security. (n.d.). How To Enroll in Just Medicare. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/
  3. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Blood. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/blood
  4. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). How hospice works. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-a-covers/how-hospice-works
  5. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Medicare Costs at a Glance. Retrieved from https://edit.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/medicare-costs-at-a-glance
  6. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Part A coverage: Home health services. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/home-health-services
  7. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Part A coverage: Skilled nursing facility SNF care. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/skilled-nursing-facility-snf-care
  8. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Special circumstances: Special enrollment period. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/when-can-i-join-a-health-or-drug-plan/special-circumstances-special-enrollment-periods
  9. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). What Part A Covers. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-a-covers