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Medicare Part A

If you are about to turn 65, you are likely considering enrolling in Medicare. Original Medicare consists of Part A and Part B. Find out more about what Medicare Part A will offer in 2021.

What Is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. You can use it to cover the costs associated with inpatient care. Medicare Part A works alongside Medicare Part B to provide you with comprehensive health insurance.

How Much Is Medicare Part A?

Most people do not pay premiums for Medicare Part A. When you work, you pay Medicare taxes. These taxes are used for Medicare Part A. You will get Medicare Part A without a premium if you are 65 and:

  • Get Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board retirement benefits.
  • Are eligible for retirement benefits but have not filed the paperwork yet.
  • Your spouse or you have mandatory Medicare coverage from work.

You also might be eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A coverage if you are under 65. This is the case if you have received Railroad Retirement Board or Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months. You also won’t have to pay premiums if you have End-Stage Renal Disease. However, you do need to meet certain requirements.

If you have to pay for Medicare Part B, your premium will range from $240-$437 a month. You will only have to pay if you paid Medicare taxes for fewer than 40 quarters. The amount is adjusted based on the number of quarters you paid the taxes.

In 2019, the Medicare Part A deductible was $1,364. This is not an annual deductible. It is for each benefit period. A new benefit period begins every time you check into a hospital or skilled nursing facility and ends after you have not received inpatient care for 60 consecutive days.

You will also need to pay coinsurance when you use Medicare Part A. You will not be charged during the first 60 days of an inpatient stay but will pay a coinsurance charge of $341 a day for days 61-90. Your coinsurance goes up to $682 a day for each lifetime reserve day after day 90. You only get 60 lifetime reserve days for the lifetime of your policy. Once all lifetime reserve days have been used, you will have to pay all the costs.

What Does Medicare Part A Cover?

Medicare Part A covers hospital care. This includes care at inpatient hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and long-term care hospitals. When a doctor deems it necessary, Medicare Part A also covers home healthcare. This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, part-time care, and durable medical equipment.

Does Medicare Part A Cover Emergency Room Visits?

While Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, it does not cover outpatient emergency room visits. If you have Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), your emergency room visits will be covered by Medicare Part B.

How to Apply for Medicare Part A

You can get Medicare Part A as part of a Medicare Advantage plan. You also have the option of getting it by applying with the Social Security Office. Visit the office in person or call 1-800-772-1213. The office is open Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you prefer to apply online, visit www.SSA.Gov.

If you were employed by a railroad, you will need to apply through the Railroad Retirement Board. Call 1-877-772-5772 between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays to apply through the board.

You can only enroll in Medicare Part A during certain times of the year. The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the best time to enroll in Medicare Part A. This period begins three months prior to the month you turn 65 and ends three months after. For example, if you turn 65 on July 1, your period will begin on May 1 and end on Oct. 31.

If you miss the IEP, you can enroll during the General Enrollment Period. It runs from January 1 to March 31. You also might be eligible to enroll during a Special Enrollment Period. These periods are open to those who lose their employer-sponsored coverage or meet other criteria.

Choose the Best Option for Medicare Part A in 2021

You can sign up for Medicare Part A through the Social Security Administration or you can get it as part of a Medicare Advantage plan. Find out more about your options by calling a licensed insurance agent. Your agent will explain your options and help you save money while getting the coverage you need.

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