Part A is one of Medicare’s four main parts.
Part A helps pay for inpatient stays in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, some home care and end-of-life hospice care.
Part B covers doctor and outpatient services. Part A and Part B, both included in the bill that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law in 1965, are known as original Medicare.
Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is a private health insurance alternative to federally run original Medicare, enacted as the Medicare+Choice program in 1997 and changed to Medicare Advantage in 2003. If you choose to get coverage from a Medicare Advantage plan, you still need to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B.
Part D is prescription drug coverage, which you can get from a stand-alone private policy or a Medicare Advantage plan.
What services does Medicare Part A cover?
The following are included.
Hospital services. Medicare Part A helps pay for many of your expenses if you’re admitted as an inpatient to a hospital that accepts Medicare, such as:
- A semiprivate room and meals.
- General nursing.
- Drugs, supplies and other hospital services.
- Some blood transfusions.
- Inpatient rehabilitation.
You have no copayment for the first 60 days of an inpatient hospital stay for each benefit period. You pay a portion of the cost after that, called Part A coinsurance. A benefit period begins the day you’re admitted to a hospital as an inpatient or become a patient in a skilled nursing facility and ends when you’ve been out of the hospital or skilled nursing facility for 60 days in a row.
However, Part A doesn’t cover some hospital services, such as a private room, unless medically necessary; a television in your room if there’s a separate charge; or personal items such as razors or slipper socks, unless provided to all patients at no extra charge.
Physicians’ services, including anesthetists, hospitalists, surgeons and other doctors in a medical center or skilled nursing facility, are covered under Part B rather than Part A.
Home health care. Part A covers some part-time skilled home care for patients who are homebound and meet other requirements. A doctor must certify that you need intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy, continued occupational therapy or speech-language pathology services. A Medicare-approved home health agency must provide the care.
Hospice care. Medicare Part A covers hospice for people who are terminally ill. Your doctor must certify that you have a life expectancy of six months or less. Hospice provides comfort care, also known as palliative care, rather than medical treatment to cure your illness.
You may receive hospice care in your home, an inpatient hospice center, a nursing home or other facility. You may have to pay room and board if you live in a place that's not a hospice facility, such as a nursing home.
Skilled nursing facilities. Part A covers the first 20 days in a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility, which provides specialized nursing care and rehabilitation after being hospitalized. You generally need to have been an inpatient in a hospital for at least three days to qualify, and your doctor must certify that you need daily skilled care from or under the supervision of skilled nursing or therapy staff.