| Fri, Aug 05, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare Part A: Coverage, Costs and How to Sign up

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Medicare Part A helps with the cost of inpatient hospital stays and skilled nursing services following a hospital stay, plus some other skilled care.What is Medicare Part A? Medicare Part A helps with the cost of inpatient hospital stays and skilled nursing services following a hospital stay, plus some other skilled care. Together, Medicare Part A and Part B (which helps with doctor’s visits and outpatient care) make up what’s known as “Original Medicare,” the Medicare program that’s operated by the federal government.

 

 

What does Part A Cover?

  • Inpatient care in hospitals and a follow-up stay in a skilled nursing facility, if necessary.
  • Hospice care services.
  • Home health care services for those who cannot leave the home.
  • Inpatient care in a Religious Nonmedical Health Care Institution.
  • Some blood transfusions.

Most doctor services that you receive during a hospital stay are covered by Medicare Part B, not Part A. There is a deductible for Part B, and a 20% coinsurance.

Part A does not pay for personal costs while you’re in the hospital, like phone calls, or personal services, like custodial care (help with eating, bathing or dressing, for example).

When can I join and how do I sign up for Medicare Part A?

You can join Medicare Part A as soon as you become eligible for Medicare. If you’re receiving Social Security benefits, you’ll be signed up for Parts A and B automatically. If you’re not automatically enrolled in Original Medicare and want to sign up, you may do so during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) through your local Social Security office. Your Part A coverage will renew automatically each year.

How much does Part A cost?

Premium

For most, there is no premium for Part A.  If you or your spouse made payroll contributions to Social Security for at least ten years, then you wouldn’t pay a premium. However, if neither of you contributed to Social Security for at least ten years, you will pay a monthly premium of up to $450 per month (in 2011). If you wait to enroll until after your IEP ends, you may only sign up during certain times of the year and if you didn’t qualify for premium-free Part A then your premium may be higher.

Deductibles and Coinsurance

In 2011, the deductible for Part A is $1,132. You pay the deductible for each hospital stay, subject to certain limitations, before the plan begins to pay its share of the costs.

After you’ve stayed in the hospital a certain number of days, there is coinsurance. For example, for hospital stays in 2011, you pay $283 per day for days 61-90, and $566 per day for days 91 through 150. Remember that adding a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan to your Original Medicare coverage can help pay some of the costs not covered by Original Medicare. Read more about Medicare Part A deductibles and copays.

To learn more, contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear at 1-877-619-5582 (TTY 711), 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., 7 days a week. You may also call the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

Medicare.gov explains Part A

Check out your Medicare Coverage Choices

Get help deciding what Medicare coverage to sign up for

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