Inpatient Hospital Coverage

Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital care, but you still have to pay a deductible — $1,632 in 2024. There is no coinsurance for the first 60 days of your hospital stay, but you will have to pay more for days 61 through 90 and you’ll pay all costs after you run out of “lifetime reserve days.”

Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Terry Turner

    Terry Turner

    Senior Financial Writer and Financial Wellness Facilitator

    Terry Turner has more than 35 years of journalism experience, including covering benefits, spending and congressional action on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. He is a Certified Financial Wellness Facilitator through the National Wellness Institute and the Foundation for Financial Wellness and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®).

    Read More
  • Edited By
    Matt Mauney
    Matt Mauney, Senior Editor for RetireGuide

    Matt Mauney

    Financial Editor

    Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist, editor, writer and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience working for nationally recognized newspapers and digital brands. He has contributed content for,, The Hill and the American Cancer Society, and he was part of the Orlando Sentinel digital staff that was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2017.

    Read More
  • Reviewed By
    Aflak Chowdhury
    Aflak Chowdhury

    Aflak Chowdhury

    Medicare Expert

    Aflak Chowdhury is a Medicare expert and independent insurance broker specializing in group health insurance. He has worked for major providers including Humana and Principal Financial Group and today works mainly in the small group market.

    Read More
  • Published: June 26, 2020
  • Updated: October 20, 2023
  • 6 min read time
  • This page features 7 Cited Research Articles
Fact Checked
Fact Checked

A qualified expert reviewed the content on this page to ensure it is factually accurate, meets current industry standards and helps readers achieve a better understanding of retirement topics.

Cite Us
How to Cite's Article

APA Turner, T. (2023, October 20). Inpatient Hospital Coverage. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from

MLA Turner, Terry. "Inpatient Hospital Coverage.", 20 Oct 2023,

Chicago Turner, Terry. "Inpatient Hospital Coverage." Last modified October 20, 2023.

Why Trust
Why You Can Trust Us

Content created by RetireGuide and sponsored by our partners.

Key Principles

RetireGuide’s mission is to provide seniors with resources that will help them reach important financial decisions that affect their retirement. Our goal is to arm our readers with knowledge that will lead to a healthy and financially sound retirement.

We’re dedicated to providing thoroughly researched Medicare information that guides you toward making the best possible health decisions for you and your family.

RetireGuide LLC has partnerships with Senior Market Sales (SMS) and GoHealth.

Our partners are able to be reached through the phone numbers and/or forms provided on our website.

The content and tools created by RetireGuide adhere to strict Medicare and editorial guidelines to ensure quality and transparency.

Editorial Independence

While the experts from our partners are available to help you navigate various Medicare plans, RetireGuide retains complete editorial control over the information it publishes.

We operate independently from our partners, which allows the award-winning RetireGuide team to provide you with unbiased information.

Visitors can trust our inflexibility regarding our editorial autonomy. We do not allow our partnership to influence RetireGuide’s editorial content whatsoever.

What Is Inpatient Hospital Care?

Hospital services include both inpatient and outpatient care. Medicare Part A generally pays for hospital care when you are expected to need to be hospitalized through two or more midnights for medically necessary services that can only be performed in a hospital.

Inpatient hospital care refers to care you receive starting on the day you are formally admitted to the hospital. It ends the day before you are discharged.

When Medicare Part A Covers Hospital Care
  • The hospital accepts Medicare.
  • You have a written doctor’s order to admit you as an inpatient to treat your illness or injury.
  • In some cases, you’ve already been admitted to the hospital and its Utilization Review Committee approves your stay as an inpatient.

However, you may also be in the hospital for outpatient care. This can happen if you are kept in a hospital for emergency or observation services, outpatient surgery, lab tests or X-rays, or other hospital services but your doctor has not written an order to admit you to the hospital.

Medicare Part A may not cover your hospital stay if you’re not considered an inpatient, but Medicare Part B may pay for some or all of your outpatient hospital services.

Examples of Inpatient and Outpatient Situations
Situation Inpatient or Outpatient What Part A Pays What Part B Pays
Admitted to the hospital after showing up in the emergency room. Outpatient until formally admitted with a doctor’s order, then inpatient. Inpatient care and any outpatient services for three days prior to hospital admission. Doctor services
You visit the ER for chest pains and the hospital keeps you for two nights, one for observation before your doctor writes an order for inpatient admission. Outpatient until you are formally admitted on the doctor’s order. Inpatient after admission. Inpatient hospital stay and all related outpatient services in the three days before admission. Doctor services
Outpatient surgery at a hospital, but you are kept overnight for observation without an inpatient order from your doctor. Outpatient Nothing covered Doctor services and outpatient services, including lab tests, surgery and IV medicines.
You have a doctor’s order for inpatient care, but the hospital changes your status to outpatient. Your doctor agrees with the change.* Outpatient Nothing covered Doctor services and hospital outpatient services.
*In this situation, the hospital is required to notify you in writing that your status has been changed from inpatient to outpatient while you are still in the hospital and before you are discharged.

What Inpatient Care Does Medicare Cover?

Medicare covers certain hospital care and medical services if you are a hospital inpatient. This coverage applies to acute care, critical access and long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehab, psychiatric and skilled nursing facilities and inpatient care if you are part of a qualifying clinical research study.

Covered Hospital Services
  • Semi-private room
  • Meals
  • General nursing
  • Drugs as part of your inpatient care
  • Other hospital services and supplies
Hospital Services Not Covered
  • Private-duty nursing
  • Private room, unless medically necessary
  • Telephone and phone in your room (there is a separate charge)
  • Personal care items such as razors, toothbrushes, slipper socks

Costs of Medicare Inpatient Care in 2024

Inpatient care usually falls under Medicare Part A, but you may be responsible for some of the costs out of your own pocket.

Inpatient Care Costs with Medicare Part A for 2024
  • $1,632 deductible for each benefit period
  • Days 1 to 60 of Hospitalization: $0 coinsurance for each benefit period
  • Days 61 to 90: $408 coinsurance per day of each benefit period
  • Days 91 and beyond: $816 coinsurance per each lifetime reserve day after day 90 of each benefit period (you only have 60 of these days for your lifetime)
  • Beyond Lifetime Reserve Days: All costs

Medicare inpatient coverage of psychiatric hospitalization is limited to 190 days over the course of your lifetime. There are also certain hospital services that are not covered.

Did You Know?
Even if you spend the night in a hospital, you may be classified as an outpatient. This can affect whether or how much Medicare will pay. Be sure to ask your doctor if your stay is considered inpatient or outpatient.

What Are Medicare Lifetime Reserve Days?

Lifetime reserve days are extra days that can be added to hospital stays beyond 90 days. But you only get 60 of these extra days over the course of your life. When you use these lifetime reserve days, you still have to pay coinsurance — $816 per day in 2024.

You don’t have to apply all your lifetime reserve days to the same hospital stay. You can split them up as needed. But your hospital will start automatically using your lifetime reserve days when you run through 90 days of hospitalization in any benefit period.

If you don’t use your lifetime reserve days after a 90-day hospital stay, you will have to pay the full cost of each day you stay in the hospital going forward.

At least 12 Medicare supplemental insurance policies will cover your hospital coinsurance and provide another 365 lifetime reserve days. Medigap will also cover your hospital deductible.

This coverage is something to take into account if you are considering Medigap coverage. Remember that you cannot have both Medigap and Medicare Advantage coverage at the same time.

Last Modified: October 20, 2023

7 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2023, October 12). 2024 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles. Retrieved from
  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). Costs. Retrieved from
  3. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2018, August). Are You a Hospital Inpatient or Outpatient? Retrieved from
  4. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Inpatient or Outpatient Hospital Status Affects Your Costs. Retrieved from
  5. Barry, P. (2012, October). Medicare: Inpatient or Outpatient? Retrieved from
  6. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Medicare Part A Coverage – Hospital Care. Retrieved from
  7. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Inpatient Hospital Care. Retrieved from