What Is Medicare Part A And How Does It Work?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Healthcare is a cornerstone of our well-being, especially as we age. It’s crucial to understand the benefits to which we’re entitled. Enter Medicare Part A, the federal government’s hospital insurance offering. In this article, we’ll delve into what you need to know about Medicare Part A, address common questions, and make navigating your health plan easier.

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What is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A, often termed hospital insurance, is one part of the Original Medicare plan. It primarily covers hospital inpatient care, including general and critical access hospital services.

Example: Mrs. Johnson was admitted to a general hospital for surgery. Her stay and some associated services were covered under Medicare Part A.

The Blue Medicare Card

You’ll receive a blue Medicare card when enrolled in Original Medicare. This card indicates your enrollment in both Medicare Part A and Part B coverage.

Medicare Part A

Eligibility for Medicare Part A

To be eligible for Medicare, specific criteria need to be met. Generally, if you’ve paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters (10 years), you qualify for premium-free Part A Medicare.

Example: Mr. Smith worked for 12 years, paying Medicare taxes throughout his career. He is now eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A.

The Enrollment Process

Most people are automatically enrolled when they turn 65 or after they’ve received disability benefits for 24 months. Different enrollment periods exist, such as the initial and general enrollment periods. Missing these can lead to a late enrollment penalty.

Special Cases

Individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) or end-stage renal disease have different enrollment rules.

What Services Are Covered?

Medicare Part A encompasses a range of services. It includes inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, intermittent care, home health services, and hospice care for the terminally ill.

Example: Mr. Martinez needed physical therapy and wound care after a severe fall. Both of these medically necessary services were covered under his Part A benefits.

Additional Benefits

Benefit periods play a role in what Medicare covers. Once you meet specific criteria, a new benefit period begins. Medicare also covers room, board, and lab tests with some exceptions.

What Does Part A Cover

Understanding the Costs

Though many receive premium-free Medicare, out-of-pocket costs can arise. It’s vital to understand these to avoid surprise bills.

Example: Mrs. Lewis required durable medical equipment for her recovery. While Medicare covered some costs, she had out-of-pocket expenses.

Supplemental Coverage

Medicare Advantage plans, or Medicare supplement insurance can help cover some costs that Original Medicare doesn’t. It’s essential to consider these options if you seek more extensive coverage.

Medicare Part A Coverage

Key Differences: Medicare Part A vs. Part B

While Medicare Part A covers hospital services, Medicare Part B covers medical insurance, outpatient care, preventive services, and more.

Example: Ms. White required follow-up doctor’s visits and lab tests after being discharged from the hospital. These were covered under Medicare Part B.

What Does Medicare Part A Cover

Additional Resources

It’s always helpful to know where to turn for more information. The Social Security Administration and the Railroad Retirement Board offer guidance on Medicare benefits. Plus, many healthcare providers can clarify what services are covered.

Medicare Coverage A


Medicare Part A provides essential hospital insurance for eligible individuals. Whether you’re approaching 65, living with a disability, or caring for a loved one, understanding Medicare’s intricacies is crucial. This guide clarifies Part A’s benefits, costs, and the differences between other Medicare parts. Remember, staying informed is the best way to take advantage of the health insurance and care you deserve.

What Is Medicare A

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for Medicare Part A coverage?

Individuals who have paid Medicare taxes for ten years or who are 65 years or older meet other criteria.

What are the benefits of having Medicare Part A coverage?

Coverage for inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and some home health care services.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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