After you pay the Part A deductible, Medicare pays the full cost of covered hospital services for the first 60 days of each benefit period when you’re an inpatient, which means you’re admitted to the hospital and not for observational care. Part A also pays a portion of the costs for longer hospital stays.
First, what is a benefit period?
A benefit period begins the day you’re admitted to a hospital as an inpatient or become a patient in a skilled nursing facility. It ends when you’ve been out of the hospital or skilled nursing facility for 60 consecutive days.
The designation as an inpatient is important. You can be lying in a hospital bed but be classified as under observation, or you can be occupying a bed in an outpatient surgery center. Neither counts toward inpatient status. Check with the hospital while you’re there to get clarification on your status.
You pay a single deductible even if you have more than one hospital stay during a benefit period. But be aware that you may pay more than one deductible in a calendar year; that could be different from private insurance plans you’ve had through work.
What hospital services does Part A cover?
If you’re admitted as an inpatient to a hospital that accepts Medicare, Medicare Part A covers most hospital services, such as:
- A semiprivate room and meals.
- General nursing services.
- Drugs, supplies and other hospital services that are part of your inpatient treatment.
- Some blood transfusions.
- Inpatient rehabilitation services.
Part A doesn’t pay for some hospital services, suach as a private room unless medically necessary. It also won’t pay for personal items — razors or socks — unless provided to all patients at no charge. Physicians’ fees in the hospital are usually covered under Medicare Part B, rather than Part A.