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Medicare FAQs - Medicare Part A (hospital)

1. What does Medicare Part A cover?

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance and helps cover inpatient care in hospitals. Part A also helps cover skilled nursing facilities, hospice and home healthcare if certain conditions are met.

2. When can I sign up for Part A?

If you get benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you will automatically get Part A on the first day of the month you turn age 65. If you are under age 65 and disabled, you will automatically get Part A after you get disability benefits from Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits for 24 months.

3. What is the fee for Part A benefits?

If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working, you are eligible for premium-free Part A benefits.

4. What is a benefit period?

A benefit period is defined as 60 consecutive days. The first day of the benefit period begins on the day you enter the hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF) and ends when no care has been received from an inpatient hospital or SNF for 60 consecutive days. The inpatient deductible is paid for each benefit period; there is no limit to the number of benefit periods.

5. What if I am not eligible for premium-free Part A benefits?

If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A benefits, you can buy Part A benefits during the following times:

  • Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): The seven-month period that begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after your 65th birthday
  • General Enrollment Period (GEP): From January 1 - March 31 each year
  • Special Enrollment Period (SEP): If you have group health coverage through your or your spouse's employer or union