Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A Explained
Medicare has four parts, and each one serves a different purpose. Medicare Part A is hospital insurance.
Just about everyone age 65 and over is eligible for Medicare Part A, though some have to pay a monthly premium. But being eligible doesn't mean that Part A covers all hospital costs, and even after Part A does pay, participants are typically left with hefty out-of-pocket costs. Learning what Part A won't pay (known as Medicare "gaps") can help participants figure out what to expect and how best to protect themselves with other coverage -- through medigap supplemental insurance, a Part C managed care plan, Medicaid benefits, or other sources.
Who's eligible for Medicare Part A coverage?
Two categories of people are eligible: those "automatically" eligible, which means coverage is free and they don't have to pay a premium; and those who must pay a monthly premium. People in either category must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States and at least age 65 or disabled.
Those who are age 65 or older and eligible for Social Security, Railroad Retirement or civil service retirement, or dependents or survivors benefits are eligible for Medicare Part A without paying any premium. People who are under age 65 but have been eligible for Social Security disability benefits for 24 months or who have permanent kidney failure are also eligible for free Part A coverage.
Those who aren't eligible for free Medicare Part A coverage at age 65 can buy into Part A by paying a monthly premium. For someone who has 30 to 39 Social Security or civil service work credits, Part A coverage costs $250 a month; for those who have fewer than 30 work credits, Part A costs $451 a month. You can find out how many credits you have by checking the annual earnings record Social Security sends you or by going online at the Social Security website.