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En español | Original Medicare, the federal insurance program included in the bill that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law in 1965, includes Part A and Part B.
Part A helps pay for inpatient stays in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, some home health care, and end-of-life hospice care.
Part B covers doctors’ services, diagnostic screenings, lab tests, preventive services, outpatient care and some medical equipment and supplies, and transportation.
These two parts of Medicare can cover many of your health care costs, but they still leave gaps.
Part A covers a variety of hospital costs, including a semiprivate room and meals, general nursing services and drugs, supplies and hospital services that are part of your inpatient treatment. However, Part A doesn’t cover the following:
Some hospital-related services that you might expect Part A to pay for are instead covered through Medicare Part B. They include:
Three-day hospitalization rule. Part A covers short-term stays in a skilled nursing facility or rehab center after being discharged from the hospital. But you can qualify for this coverage only if you first were formally admitted to the hospital as an inpatient for at least three consecutive days.
If you qualify for skilled nursing facility coverage, you pay:
Must be an inpatient. If you were in the hospital “under observation” rather than admitted as an inpatient, you do not qualify for Medicare’s skilled nursing coverage.
Medicare Part A, or any part of Medicare, doesn’t cover long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Medicare will cover your medical needs, as it would no matter where you live. But it does not pay for room and board at these facilities or for help with everyday activities such as bathing, dressing, eating or using the bathroom (also called “custodial care”) if that is the only care that you need.
Updated December 15, 2022
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