What Does Medicare Part A Cover?

Medicare Part A provides coverage for inpatient stays at a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF), hospice care and home healthcare. Keep on reading to learn more.

When you become eligible for Medicare, it is generally Medicare Part A and Part B that you are previously enrolled in. Medicare Part A and Part B make up Original Medicare. Medicare Part A by and large helps pay your expenses as a hospital inpatient. Medicare Part B may help pay for doctor visits, preventive services, lab tests, clinical equipment and supplies, and more.

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. What does Medicare Part A cover? It usually covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing care, hospice care, and limited home healthcare services. You ordinarily pay a deductible and coinsurance as well as copayments. A great many people are qualified for premium-free Part A in light of the fact that they have 40 work credits. Notwithstanding, individuals with not enough work credits can enroll in Part A yet may need to pay a month to month premium.

How does Medicare work?

With Medicare, you have choices in how you get your coverage. Once you are enrolled, you will need to decide how to get your Medicare coverage. There are 2 main ways for you to do this:

Original Medicare

Original Medicare incorporates Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). You pay for services as you get them, and once you do get these services, you will pay a deductible toward the beginning of every year, and you ordinarily pay 20% of the expense of the Medicare-approved service, called coinsurance. Assuming you need drug coverage, you can add a separate drug plan (Part D).

Original Medicare pays for a lot, however not all, of the expense for covered medical services and supplies. A Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) strategy can assist with paying a portion of the excess healthcare costs, similar to copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Some Medigap policies additionally cover benefits that Original Medicare does not cover, for instance to medical care when you travel outside the United States.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage is an “all in one” option in contrast to Original Medicare. These “bundled” plans incorporate Part A, Part B, and as a rule Part D. Most plans offer additional advantages that Original Medicare does not cover — like vision, hearing, dental, and more. Medicare Advantage Plans have yearly agreements with Medicare and should adhere to Medicare’s coverage rules. The plan should tell you about any changes before the next enrollment year begins. Every Medicare Advantage Plan can charge various out-of-pocket expenses. They can likewise have various guidelines for how you get services.

What is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A is the hospital coverage plan for individuals who are 65 years old or more. The makers of Medicare imagined the parts like a buffet. You would always get Part A, so you would have coverage for a hospital stay. In the event that you do not have private insurance and need more coverage, you could look over Medicare’s other parts. You do not need to be retired to pursue Medicare Part A – it is an advantage you can begin getting when you turn 65. Numerous individuals decide to have private insurance, (for example, from an employer) and Medicare.

Medicare Part A, or Medicare hospital coverage, pays for care at a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or nursing home, and for home health services. Enrollees who paid Medicare taxes during their working years or individuals whose life partner paid these taxes do not pay premiums for Medicare Part A once they are 65 years of age. This implies that you have effectively paid your premiums through the 1.45% Medicare payroll tax that you and your employer each paid on the entirety of your wages.

In the event that you did not pay this tax during your working years, the premiums are a few hundred dollars for each month. This can be about as high as $471 in 2021. Younger individuals who get long term Social Security disability benefits likewise meet all requirements for a premium-free Part A. Nonetheless, in any event, when Medicare Part A is without premium, a great many people will still have out-of-pocket costs for copayments and coinsurance.

What does Medicare Part A cover?

Medicare coverage is based on 3 main factors:

  • Federal and state laws.
  • Local coverage choices made by organizations in each state that process claims for Medicare. These organizations decide whether something is medically important and should be covered in their area.
  • National coverage decisions made by Medicare about whether something is covered.

You can find out if Medicare covers what you need in two ways:

  • Contact your doctor or other healthcare provider, and talk to them regarding why you need certain services or supplies. Question whether Medicare will cover them. You might need something that is typically covered but your provider thinks that Medicare will not cover it in your situation. If so, you will have to read and sign a notice. The notice mentions that you may have to pay for the item, service, or supply.
  • Figure out if Medicare provides coverage for your item, service, or supply.

Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, such those in a skilled nursing facility. It also covers some home health services and hospice services. It does not include any doctor fees during a hospital stay, which instead fall under the coverage of Part B.

Inpatient hospital stays

  • A semi-private room
  • Care on special units if necessary, such as intensive care
  • Dietary counseling
  • Drugs and medical supplies
  • General nursing care
  • Lab and imaging tests and operating room
  • Meals
  • Medical social services
  • Rehabilitation services, such as physical and occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy

Skilled nursing home services

  • A semi-private room
  • Drugs and medical supplies
  • General nursing care
  • Meals
  • Rehabilitation services, such as physical and occupational therapy

Home health

  • Drugs and medical supplies
  • Injectable osteoporosis medications
  • Medical social services
  • Part-time home health aide services
  • Part-time nursing care
  • Rehabilitation services, such as physical and occupational therapy
  • Skilled healthcare for people who cannot leave their home
  • Speech therapy


  • Care to manage symptoms and control pain for those with a terminal illness
  • Drugs and medical supplies
  • Durable medical equipment
  • General nursing care
  • Grief counseling for a person and their family
  • Medical and nursing services
  • Nurse aide services
  • Pain medication
  • Social services
  • Symptom management

Medicare Part A coverage for 2021 includes inpatient hospital stays, which may take place in:

  • Acute care hospitals
  • Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
  • Long-term care hospitals
  • Mental health hospitals

2021 Medicare Part A coverage for an inpatient hospital usually incorporates:

  • Drugs
  • Meals
  • Medical equipment that a doctor uses during the inpatient stay
  • Nursing care
  • Rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy
  • Semi-private rooms

Remember that when you are an inpatient in a hospital, it is possible to get Part A and Part B coverage simultaneously. For instance, while Part A usually covers medically essential surgeries and certain hospital costs, Part B may cover doctor visits while you are an inpatient.

Did you know that there is another method to get your Part A and Part B coverage? A Medicare Advantage plan delivers these advantages, and often more. Most Medicare Advantage plans incorporate prescription medication coverage. You should pay your Medicare Part B premium when you have a Medicare Advantage plan, along with any premium the plan would charge.

This data is definitely not a total portrayal of advantages. Contact the plan for more data. Limits, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Advantages, premiums or potentially copayments/coinsurance may change on January 1 of every year.

What does Medicare not cover?

It is also essential to know that Medicare Part A does not provide coverage for all hospital expenses. Here are a few things that Part A will not cover:

  • Long-term care. Part A is only intended to provide care during an acute illness or injury. If you have long-term care requirements, for instance a nursing home, you will have to pay for your own residential care out of pocket.
  • Private rooms. Despite the fact that inpatient care includes a stay in a semi private room, you are not entitled to a private room during your care.
  • Your first 3 pints of blood. If a hospital receives blood from a blood bank, you may not have to pay anything. Nevertheless, if a hospital has to get special blood for you, there are chances that you might have to pay for it out of pocket.

Medicare Part A eligibility

Beginning at 65 years of age, a lot of people are qualified for Medicare Part A coverage. To be qualified, an individual should be a resident of the United States or should have been a legal resident for 5 continuous years. Individuals beneath the age of 65 years may meet eligibility necessities dependent on their medical status. Medicare Part A eligibility prerequisites for individuals under 65 years old incorporate those getting Social Security Insurance (SSI) or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) for two years because of a disability.

There are likewise special guidelines for individuals under 65 years old who have either end stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Individuals with ALS can get Medicare Part A the first month after meeting all requirements for SSI benefits. The guidelines for individuals with ESRD are more difficult. The waiting period differs as indicated by how long they have been on dialysis, with eligibility starting after the third month following dialysis. Nonetheless, if an individual has finished self-dialysis training, eligibility begins during the first month. Coverage will likewise kick in during the month of a kidney transplant or earlier if an individual requires hospitalization 2 months before a kidney transplant to get ready for the procedure.

Medicare Part A enrollment

Medicare Part A enrollment is often automatic, implying that the individual does not need to make any move to affirm the cover. On the off chance that an individual is already getting social security, their enrollment in Medicare Part A will occur automatically 3 months before their 65th birthday. Additionally, individuals who get social security disability likewise get automatic enrollment toward the beginning of their 25th month of benefits.

Individuals do not get automatic Medicare enrollment in case they are either more than 65 years old or 90 days from reaching 65 years and are not previously getting social security. These people need to sign up. People may apply for Medicare online through the Social Security Administration website or face to face at a Social Security office. The enrollment period for Medicare begins 3 months before an individual’s 65th birthday, and finishes 3 months after the 65th birthday. There is likewise an open enrollment period in the fall.

At the point when coverage for Medicare starts will rely upon when the individual signed up according to their 65th birthday. For instance, if an individual signs up 90 days before their 65th birthday, during the initial enrollment period, coverage will begin on the first day of the month during which they become 65 years old.

Who qualifies for free Medicare Part A?

As per the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, many individuals do not pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A coverage. Individuals in the following categories are eligible for free Medicare Part A:

  • a person who is qualified for retirement benefits from the above agencies but has not filed yet
  • a person with ESRD who meets certain requirements
  • an individual (or their spouse) who has Medicare-covered government employment
  • an individual who receives disability benefits for 2 years
  • People who are already receiving retirement benefits from the RRB or Social Security

Despite the fact that a person may be eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A, they will still have to pay specific deductibles for some services.

Cost of Medicare Part A

Based on your income, you might have to pay a premium for Part A coverage. If you have worked and paid FICA taxes for 10 years, you pay no premium for Part A. Nevertheless, you might have to pay copayments or a deductible for any service that falls under Medicare Part A. You can sign up for assistance or help if you are unable to pay.

As per Medicare, apart from a $1,484 deductible, your 2021 Part A costs include:

  • $0 coinsurance for hospitalization days 1–60
  • $371 coinsurance per day for hospitalization days 61–90
  • $742 coinsurance per day for hospitalization day 91 and beyond for each lifetime reserve day
  • all costs for each hospitalization day over your lifetime reserve days
  • no charge for the first 20 days of approved skilled nursing facility care
  • $185.50 per day for 21–100 days of approved skilled nursing facility care
  • all costs after 101 days of approved skilled nursing facility care
  • no charge for hospice care

Individuals who utilize their Medicare Part A coverage for inpatient hospital stays actually need to meet their deductible before Medicare subsidizes any treatment. In 2021, this deductible is $1,484. When Medicare ers expenses, there are often still copayments that rely upon the length of stay. For instance, Medicare Part A covers the initial 60 days of an inpatient stay. Nonetheless, an individual should pay $371 for each extra day between 61 and 90 days.

In the event that an inpatient stay goes past 90 days, Medicare gives 60 reserve days that will cost an individual $742 per day. Medicare Part A additionally covers skilled nursing home stays. Nonetheless, the rules are different. There is no copayment for the initial 20 days of the stay. Between days 21 and 100, the copayment is $185.50 each day.

Medicare Part A does not cover over 100 days of an inpatient stay in a skilled nursing facility, which implies that the individual is liable for the whole expense after their 100th day in the hospital. An individual can take out supplemental insurance, for example, a Medigap plan, to take care of expenses past the restrictions of Medicare Part A. Medicare Part A coverage changes annually. It is crucial to keep yourself up to date with each year’s new premiums and deductibles.

Does Medicare Part A cover 100 percent?

Most Medicare Part A beneficiaries do not need to pay a monthly premium to get coverage under this part of Original Medicare; this is known as ” premium-free Part A.” Generally, if you have worked no less than 10 years (40 quarters) and settled Medicare taxes while you worked, you are qualified for a premium-free Part A. Or else, you pay a month to month premium.

Medicare Part A regularly does not cover all of your hospital bill, so you will most likely be liable for a share in the expense. You will likewise need to pay a deductible before Medicare benefits start. Medicare will then pay 100% of your expenses for up to 60 days in a hospital or 20 days in a skilled nursing facility. From that point forward, you pay a flat sum up to the maximum number of covered days. Your Medicare Part A advantages cover a portion of the expenses for a total of 90 days in a hospital and 100 days in a skilled nursing facility. Medicare likewise covers up to 60 “lifetime reserve days.” These are days you stay in a hospital longer than 90 days straight. You get a lifetime total of 60 reserve days.

Does Medicare Part A cover doctor visits?

Medicare Part A is fundamentally hospital insurance. If you want to have coverage of doctor visits and medical services and supplies, you should look over Medicare Part B which is medical insurance. It usually covers services and items such as:

  • Alcohol use counseling
  • Chemotherapy
  • Diabetes screenings, supplies, and self-management therapy
  • Doctor office visits
  • Durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs
  • Flu shots
  • Mental health care (outpatient)
  • Physical therapy
  • Pneumococcal shots
  • Preventive services, such as certain tests and screenings

This is not a complete rundown. Part B may cover a wide range of items and services, however certain coverage rules apply. For instance, suppliers should acknowledge Medicare assignment (a payment agreement with Medicare), and certain things and services should be medically essential. Under Part B, much of the time you will pay 20% of the Medicare-approved sum for every service or item. A deductible may likewise apply.

Does Medicare Part A cover emergency room visits?

Medicare Part A is often called “hospital insurance,” yet it only takes care of the expenses of an emergency room (ER) visit in case you are admitted to the hospital to treat the sickness or injury that carried you to the ER. On the off chance that your ER visit is not covered under Medicare Part A, you might have the option to get coverage through Medicare Part B, C, D, or Medigap, contingent upon your particular plan.

In case you are treated and released from the emergency department without being admitted to the hospital as an inpatient, odds are that Medicare Part A will not cover your ER visit. Regardless of whether you stay in the ER overnight, Medicare Part A thinks of you as an outpatient except if a doctor writes an order admitting you to the hospital for treatment. Most of the time, you must be admitted as an inpatient for two continuous midnights for Medicare Part A to cover your visit.

In the event that a doctor admits you to the hospital following an ER visit and you stay in the hospital for two midnights or more, Medicare Part A pays for your inpatient hospital stay in addition to the outpatient costs from your ER visit. You will in any case be liable for your deductible, coinsurance, and copayments. In case you are uncertain about whether you are being treated as an outpatient or inpatient, ask the doctor treating you. In the event that you have a Medigap plan, it might pay part of your copay or coinsurance.

The parts of Medicare cover which ER care if you are not admitted to the hospital are:

  • Medicare Part B: The good news is that Medicare Part B (medical insurance) usually covers your ER visits if you have been hurt, develop a sudden disease, or an illness takes a turn for the worse. Moreover, Medicare Part B typically pays 80 percent of your expenses. You are responsible for the rest of the 20 percent. In 2021, the annual Part B deductible is $203.
  • Medicare Part C: Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plans also cover ER and urgent care costs. Even though Medicare parts B and C usually pay for ER visits, you will still be responsible for your deductible, coinsurance, and copayments along with your monthly premiums for these plans.
  • Medigap: If you have Medigap (Medicare supplement insurance) along with your Part B plan, it can help you pay your 20 percent of the expense of the ER visit.
  • Medicare Part D: Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. If you are given any IV medications while in the ER, Medicare part B or C will normally cover them. However, if you need medication that you typically take at home and it is provided by the hospital while in the ER, that is considered a self-administered drug. If the medication you are given is on your Medicare Part D drug list, Part D may cover that medication.

Special considerations for Medicare Part A

In spite of the fact that Medicare Part A covers numerous hospital-related services, it does not cover everything. Providers should request that patients sign a notification prior to getting treatment when a service may not be covered. This methodology permits the patient to pick whether to accept the assistance and pay for it out of pocket or to reject the service.

To be proactive about keeping the expenses of your doctor’s visit down, it is a smart idea to find out before utilizing a Part A help if Medicare will cover all, part, or none of the expense. In the event that Medicare will not cover enough of the costs, try to find out why. There might be an alternative that is covered that would still help you, or you can file an appeal to try to get the coverage choice changed in your favor.

The three reasons why Medicare Part A might not provide coverage for some things are:

  • General federal and state laws
  • Local Medicare claims processors’ assessment of whether a service is medically necessary
  • Specific federal laws about what Medicare covers

One example of a service Medicare does not typically provide coverage for is custodial care in a skilled nursing facility — help with basic everyday activities, like getting dressed, bathing, and eating — if it is the only care you need. You must have more serious medical requirements for Medicare to provide coverage for your stay at a nursing home.


Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. Part A covers inpatient hospital care, limited time in a skilled nursing care facility, limited home health care services, and hospice care. Expenses related to Part A incorporate deductibles and coinsurance. In the event that an individual is not qualified for a premium-free Part A, the costs will likewise incorporate the month to month premium. It is essential to understand your Medicare coverage decisions and to pick your coverage cautiously. How you decide to get your advantages and who you get them from can influence your out-of-pocket costs and where you can get your care. For example, in Original Medicare, you are covered to go to practically all doctors and hospitals in the country. Then again, Medicare Advantage Plans commonly have network limitations, implying that you will probably be more restricted in your selection of doctors and hospitals. In any case, Medicare Advantage Plans can likewise give extra advantages that Original Medicare does not cover, like routine vision or dental care.

Sandra Johnson

Sandra Johnson

Sandra Johnson was a few years out of school and took a job as a life insurance agent in California, selling coverage door-to-door for Prudential. The experience taught her about the technical components of insurance and its benefits for individuals and society, as well as the misunderstandings people often have about insurance. She has over ten years’ experience in the insurance industry, having worked as both a Broker and Underwriter, assisting clients across a broad range of industries. At Insurance Noon, Sarah diligently gathers all the required information and curates up pieces to provide meaningful insurance solutions. Her personal value proposition is to demonstrate a genuine interest in always adding value for clients.Her determined approach to guiding clients has turned her into a platinum adviser to multiple insurers.