A quick guide to Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A is health insurance offered by the Federal Government to most people who are 65 and older and some people under age 65 with certain disabilities. Medicare Part A helps pay for the cost of inpatient hospital care. When you sign up for Medicare, you automatically get Part A.

Part A (Hospital Insurance) helps cover the following:

  • Inpatient care in hospitals (such as critical access hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and long term care hospitals)
  • Inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility (not custodial or long term care)
  • Hospice care services and home health care services

Part A is one of four types of insurance coverage offered by the Federal government for people who qualify. It is the only part that is automatically covered under Original Medicare, and most people do not pay a monthly premium for Part A coverage.

Most people will not have to pay a monthly cost (premium) for Part A, because they or their spouse paid Medicare taxes while they were working (for a total of 40 quarters = 10 years of work history).

If you get benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), you automatically get Part A starting the first day of the month you turn age 65. If you are under age 65 and disabled, you automatically get Part A after you get disability benefits from Social Security or certain disability benefits from the RBB for 24 months. You will get your Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday or your 25th month of disability. If you have ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease), you automatically get Part A the month your disability benefits begin.

If you are not eligible for premium free Part A, you may be able to buy Part A if you meet the following conditions:

  • You are 65 or older, and you are entitled to (or enrolling in) Part B and meet the citizenship or residency requirements.
  • You are under age 65, disabled, and your premium free Part A coverage ended because you returned to work.
  • You have not paid Medicare taxes through your employment.

Still have questions, or need more information on how to pick the plan that is right for you?