Part A of  Original Medicare provides coverage primarily for Hospitalization and Inpatient Skilled Nursing care.  If you’ve worked 40 quarters in your career, and contributed to the system, there is no charge for this coverage.  For those who have not worked the minimum number of quarters, there will be a charge to obtain this coverage, up to $437 monthly for 2019.  If you have at least 30 quarters of coverage, that cost is reduced to $240 monthly.

The benefits for hospitalization under Part A include 100% coverage for the first 60 days of inpatient hospitalization AFTER you pay your deductible of $1,364.  You’ll pay $341 per day for days 61-90, and $682 per day during the 60 “lifetime reserve” days.  You can avoid some or all of this liability if you purchase a Medicare Supplement or if you decide to obtain coverage through Part C, Medicare Advantage.

There is a late enrollment penalty if you decline Part A when you’re first eligible and did not have other coverage (such as active employee group health insurance).  The penalty is 10% of the Part A premium, for twice the number of years you could have had Part A, but didn’t sign up.  If you are still working, though, and covered under your group insurance, this would not apply to you;  you’ll have a “special” enrollment period when employment ends.

You may be “Automatically” enrolled in Medicare Part A when you turn 65, but if you don’t receive a red, white, and blue Medicare Card prior to your 65th birthday, we recommend contacting Medicare to be sure you’re enrolled.  You can do this by phoning 1-800-Medicare, visiting www.medicare.gov, or making an appointment at your local Social Security office.