Part A covers hospital care, providing you with affordable inpatient care. It also covers post hospital care, such as skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and home health care.
Part A does not cover long-term care, such as extended stays in a nursing home. Individuals can consider purchasing long-term care insurance if this is something they want to plan for.
When do I enroll in Medicare Part A?
Enrolling in Medicare Part A is automatic for some people, particularly those already taking Social Security income benefits. When this happens, you’ll open your mailbox 2 – 3 months before you turn 65 and find your card waiting for you. You’ll want to keep your eye on the mail for your card. It is a red, white and blue card printed on heavy card stock. It is okay to laminate the card when you receive it so that it will stay in good shape over the years of being in your wallet or purse.
If you are not already receiving Social Security income benefits or Railroad Retirement income benefits yet when you turn 65, then you will need to actively sign up for Part A.
How much will I pay for Part A?
Most beneficiaries will pay nothing for Medicare Part A. We all pay taxes during our working years that are specifically for our future healthcare coverage during retirement. These taxes go to offset the cost of Part A later on. As long as you have worked for 10 years in your lifetime in the United States, you will generally pay nothing at all for Part A.
Medicare Part A Costs
Under Medicare Part A beneficiaries usually do not have to pay monthly premiums for Medicare Part A coverage if your spouse or you have paid Medicare taxes while working. This is sometimes called premium-free Part A.
If you buy Part A, you will pay up to $426 each month but, most people will get a premium-free Part A. You will receive premium-free Part A at 65 if you meet the following requirements:
- You or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment
- You already get retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.
- You’re eligible to get Social Security or Railroad benefits but haven’t filed for them yet.
If you are under 65, you can get premium-free Part A if:
- You have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and meet certain requirements.
- You got Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for 24 months.
- In most cases, if a person chooses to purchase Part A, they must have Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) and they must pay monthly premiums for both.