Medicare 101

Understanding Medicare Part A

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published February 18, 2021 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

Medicare Part A, also referred to as Medicare hospital insurance, helps cover inpatient care for Medicare recipients. This includes some services provided in skilled nursing facilities, hospice and certain home health care services.

Medicare Part A comes without a monthly premium if you paid Medicare taxes for 10 years (40 quarters) while working. If you have to pay a monthly premium for Part A coverage, it can be as high as $471 a month in 2021.

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Part A Benefit Periods

Medicare Part A benefit periods are not annual. Instead, they are based on how long you've been discharged from the hospital. 

One Part A benefit period begins the day you are admitted to the hospital and ends when you have been discharged for at least 60 days. A new benefit period begins when you've been out of the hospital for more than 60 days.

Part A Deductibles

In 2021, the Medicare Part A deductible is $1,484 per benefit period.

That means that you must reach your deductible again for each new benefit period you experience, and there is no limit to the number of benefit periods you may go through in your lifetime.

Part A Coinsurance

If you have to stay in a hospital long term, you may also be responsible for Part A coinsurance costs. For the first 60 days of your stay, that cost is $0. However, from day 61-90, that cost is $371 per day in 2021.

For days 91 and beyond, the 2031 Medicare Part A coinsurance cost is $742 for every lifetime reserve day. After you’ve used up your lifetime reserve days, you are responsible for all costs.

Medigap Helps Cover Some Out-of-Pocket Costs

Medicare Supplement Insurance plan (also called Medigap) helps cover some of Medicare's out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. 

Each Medigap plan offers a different combinations of benefits, ranging from limited to comprehensive. 

In most states there are 10 standardized Medigap plans to choose from. All 10 standardized Medigap plans provide at least partial coverage for:

  • Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs
  • Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayments
  • First 3 pints of blood
  • Medicare Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayments

Refer to the chart below to see the basic benefits of all 10 plans.

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Medicare Supplement Benefits

Part A coinsurance and hospital coverage

Part B coinsurance or copayment

Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment

First 3 pints of blood

Skilled nursing facility coinsurance

Part A deductible

Part B deductible

Part B excess charges

Foreign travel emergency

A B C* D F1* G1 K2 L3 M N4
50% 75%
50% 75%
50% 75%
50% 75%
50% 75% 50%
80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80%

* Plan F and Plan C are not available to Medicare beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020. If you became eligible for Medicare before 2020, you may still be able to enroll in Plan F or Plan C as long as they are available in your area.

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1 Plans F and G offer high-deductible plans that each have an annual deductible of $2,370 in 2021. Once the annual deductible is met, the plan pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the year. The high-deductible Plan F is not available to new beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020.

2 Plan K has an out-of-pocket yearly limit of $6,220 in 2021. After you pay the out-of-pocket yearly limit and yearly Part B deductible, it pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the calendar year.

3 Plan L has an out-of-pocket yearly limit of $3,110 in 2021. After you pay the out-of-pocket yearly limit and yearly Part B deductible, it pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the calendar year.

4 Plan N pays 100% of the Part B coinsurance, except for a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and up to $50 copayment for emergency room visits that don’t result in an inpatient admission.

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Learn More

Speak with a licensed agent at 1-800-995-4219, or read through our other guides to learn more.

Resource Center

Compare Medigap Plans 2021

See how the 10 Medigap plans differ. Review our chart for a detailed comparison of Medicare Supplement insurance benefits and compare Medigap options where you live. Read more
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