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Learn About Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A is part of the original Medicare plan, which consists of both Part A and Medicare Part B. Medicare Part A plans provide coverage for a variety of medical services and needs, but it is not comprehensive coverage and beneficiaries should know which health care services are covered by Part A before enrolling. Medicare Part A plans cover a variety of services and needs ranging from medical professionals, medicine and other forms of care and equipment. The Medicare Part A costs can vary from person to person. For some senior citizens, Part A of Medicare may not have a monthly premium. Petitioners who do not meet the qualifications for premium-free Part A Medicare will have to pay a fee each month.

Find Out About Medicare Part A Requirements

To receive benefits for Part A of Medicare, you must meet the eligibility requirements as determined by the Medicare department of the federal government. Elderly Americans are eligible for Medicare Part A plans if they meet the minimum age requirements or receive certain forms of government-sponsored retirement benefits, such as Social Security from the federal government.

If you do not meet the minimum age requirement, then you may still qualify for a Medicare Part A plan if you have certain medical conditions. Other criteria that factor into whether applicants may be eligible to receive benefits under Medicare Part A include receiving any Social Security benefits or disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement board after a certain period. Certain medical conditions can also entitle you to Medicare benefits. These medical issues include having end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Individuals may qualify for Medicare Part A if they are U.S. citizens or foreign nationals with legal permanent residence in the country for at least five years without an interruption. In addition to the Medicare Part A citizenship requirements, you must meet state residency status to enroll where you live.

Download our free guide for details on who qualifies for Medicare Part A enrollment.

What is the Medicare Part A cost?

Medicare Part A plans normally come without a monthly premium cost for those participating in the program. Premium-free Medicare Part A may be available when you or your spouse has paid into the health care program by way of Medicare taxes deducted from your payroll checks. You may receive free Medicare Part A benefits if you:

  • Receive Social Security retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration or you receive retirement benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board.
  • Are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits or railroad retirement benefits but you have not yet applied for them.
  • Or your spouse maintains employment with an organization that is eligible to provide Medicare Part A.

If you are not eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A, then you may choose to purchase coverage instead. When you purchase a Medicare Part A plan, you may have to carry Medicare Part B as well. This means you will have to pay monthly premiums for both plans.

Premiums for Medicare Part A plans will vary depending on how many fiscal quarters you paid into Medicare taxes. Medicare Part A costs for premiums are divided into two groups. Workers who have less than the total amount of work credits needed for premium-free Part A Medicare but more than 30 will pay less than those who earned less than 30.

Find out more about Medicare Part A coverage by downloading our helpful free guide.

What does Medicare Part A cover?

Medicare Part A plans offer a variety of coverage. Part A Medicare plans include inpatient, long-term hospitalization, acute care and nursing home care. However, there are limitations to the type of coverage. For instance, inpatient care is restricted to semi-private rooms and will not cover the cost of additional features such as entertainment. Likewise, home care is limited to conditions considered medically necessary and you must require more than basic custodial care such as assistance with day-to-day living tasks like bathing, dressing and other hygiene protocols. Physical therapy, skilled nursing care and occupational therapy are among some of the home care services covered. Hospice care is included in Medicare Part A as well if and when your physician determines you are terminal and have six months or less to live. Medicare Part A also covers doctor services, medical equipment, supplies and even nursing care.

Learn About Enrolling in Medicare

The registration process for Medicare Part A coverage will depend on your circumstances. Enrollment in Medicare Part A may be automatic for some senior citizens while others must apply when they become eligible. You will be automatically enrolled in a Medicare Part A plan if you meet certain criteria. If you receive benefits from either the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board, then you should be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A on the first day of the month as soon as you meet the minimum age requirement. You may also be automatically enrolled to receive a Medicare Part A plan if you are younger than the minimum age and disabled. If you do not receive automatic enrollment but you qualify for the benefit, then you must enroll manually. You can enroll in Medicare Part A either online, over the phone or by visiting a local Social Security office in person.