Medicare Part A: Understanding your Hospital Insurance Coverage

Whether you have the original Medicare plan, a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO) or another Medicare health plan, you will, most likely, want to include hospital insurance.  Referred to as “Part A”, hospital insurance helps to cover your in-hospital care, as well as any stays in skilled nursing facilities or religious non-medical health care institutions. It also helps to cover home health care and hospice care.

 One of the great features about Medicare Part A is that if you paid enough Medicare taxes while working, you aren’t required to pay a monthly premium for part A.  If you didn’t pay enough Medicare taxes while working, but are 65 or older – or if you’re disabled and have returned to work – you can still purchase Part A; if you have limited resources, your state may even help you with your premium!

 Signing up for hospital insurance isn’t difficult, either.  In most cases, in the month you turn 65, you will automatically receive this coverage. Automatic enrollment in Medicare Part A happens at age 65 if you are getting benefits from Social Security or the RRB.  You will also be automatically enrolled if you are disabled, 24 months after receiving disability benefits from Social Security or RRB.  An exception to these two payment schedules is if you have Lou Gehri’s disease, in which case you will receive Part A the same month you collect your disability benefits. 

 If you aren’t able to receive Medicare Part A without paying a premium, you will not be automatically enrolled.  However, you can purchase it from three months prior to your 65th birthday to three months afterwards, and between January 1 and March 31 of each year. There may be other times you can enroll if you have group health coverage through work.

 Having hospital insurance is essential to receiving affordable, quality care.  If you have been regularly paying Medicare taxes, you can rest easy knowing you will have the plan in place to allow you to obtain the care you need.  If you haven’t, now is the time to look into signing up.  Part A may be a vital part of your Medicare coverage. 

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