Main Content

What is Medicare Part A?

Female doctor providing care to older woman through Medicare Part A

When you’re ready to apply for Original Medicare, you’ll find it has two parts: Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Medicare Part A benefits include a stay in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, and services during inpatient care. Sometimes they include at-home care, and even hospice care. Medicare Part B covers regular doctor visits, preventive, and everyday healthcare.

What does Medicare Part A cover?

Hospital care coverage includes coverage for hospital expenses such as:

  • Hospital stays (semi-private rooms) up to 60 days
  • Intensive care services
  • Drugs, medical supplies, and equipment used on the premises
  • Lab tests and X-rays taken while hospitalized
  • Surgery and recovery costs

Home healthcare benefits are covered when they are ordered by your doctor. They include:

  • Rehabilitation and therapy services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Medical social services
  • Speech-language pathology services
  • Part-time home nursing care

Nursing home coverage can go into effect after a qualifying hospital stay of at least three days. It includes:

  • Semi-private room
  • Meals
  • Skilled nursing services
  • Rehabilitation services if they are necessary to treat your illness
  • Dietary counseling

What is not covered under Medicare Part A?

  • Doctors and specialists who care for you in the hospital (this falls under Medicare Part B)
  • Hospital stays in a private room (unless medically necessary)
  • The cost of blood, if the hospital has to buy it for you
  • Items for personal care (like shampoo) during your stay
  • Hospital stays longer than 60 days

What does Medicare Part A coverage cost?

Most people don’t pay a premium for Medicare Part A coverage because they (or their spouse) paid into Social Security when they worked. If you do pay Medicare Part A premiums, the longer you worked and paid into Social Security, the lower your premiums will be.

What is a Medicare Part A deductible?

Medicare Part A coverage doesn’t have an annual deductible. Instead, deductibles apply to each hospital benefit period. A hospital benefit period begins when you go into a hospital or a skilled nursing facility and ends when you leave the hospital or skilled nursing facility for 60 consecutive days.

When do Medicare Part A copays begin?

A copay is a fixed amount you pay for a medical service after your deductible. Copays for Medicare Part A coverage apply once you stay in a hospital for more than 60 days in a single benefit period. In a skilled nursing facility, your copays begin after the first 20 days.

When are you eligible for Medicare Part A?

In general, Medicare Part A eligibility requires that you be 65 or older and a U.S. citizen. If you were not born in the U.S., you must be a citizen as well as a permanent resident for at least five continuous years to qualify. You may also apply for Medicare if you are younger than 65 and have certain disabilities.

When can you apply for Medicare Part A?

You can apply for Medicare through Social Security during your Initial Enrollment Period, which is:

  • Three months before your 65th birthday month
  • Your 65th birthday month
  • Three months after your 65th birthday month

Medicare Part A is just the beginning of what Medicare offers. Find out more about Medicare Part B, Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage) and Part D for a full picture of your Medicare coverage options and potential costs.

Compare costs and find a Medicare plan that’s right for you.

Shop Medicare Plans Today

Y0114_21_3000539_I_C CMS Accepted (07/17/2021)

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of: In Colorado Rocky Mountain Hospital and Medical Service, Inc. HMO products underwritten by HMO Colorado, Inc. In Connecticut: Anthem Health Plans, Inc. In Georgia: Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc.  In Indiana: Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. In Kentucky: Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky, Inc. In Maine: Anthem Health Plans of Maine, Inc. In Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area): RightCHOICE® Managed Care, Inc. (RIT), Healthy Alliance® Life Insurance Company (HALIC), and HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates administer non-HMO benefits underwritten by HALIC and HMO benefits underwritten by HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates only provide administrative services for self-funded plans and do not underwrite benefits. In Nevada: Rocky Mountain Hospital and Medical Service, Inc. HMO products underwritten by HMO Colorado, Inc. dba HMO Nevada. In New Hampshire: Anthem Health Plans of New Hampshire, Inc. HMO plans are administered by Anthem Health Plans of New Hampshire, Inc. and underwritten by Matthew Thornton Health Plan, Inc. In Ohio: Community Insurance Company. In Virginia: Anthem Health Plans of Virginia, Inc. trades as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Virginia, and its service area is all of Virginia except for the City of Fairfax, the Town of Vienna, and the area east of State Route 123. In Wisconsin: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin (BCBSWI), which underwrites or administers the PPO and indemnity policies and underwrites the out of network benefits in POS policies offered by Compcare or WCIC; Compcare Health Services Insurance Corporation (Compcare) underwrites or administers the HMO policies and Wisconsin Collaborative Insurance Company (WCIC) underwrites or administers Well Priority HMO or POS policies. Independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Anthem is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Use of the Anthem websites constitutes your agreement with our Terms of Use.