Is Medicare Part A Free At Age 65?
Medicare Part A covers hospital care at a low cost. It is not technically “free,” but it is significantly less expensive than most insurance policies. You will more than likely not have to pay premiums, but you do have to pay a deductible, and potentially some cost-sharing fees.
How Medicare Part A Works
Medicare covers emergency, hospital and nursing facility care. Up to a certain point, it will cover 100% of the cost of your stay. In order to keep your coverage, for most health insurance policies, you would have to pay premiums, a deductible, and a share of the cost of the item or service.
You are required to pay a Part A deductible. If you do have to pay the deductible, as of 2021, you will pay $1,484 for each benefit period.
What is Premium-Free Part A?
The Part A deductible is higher than other Medicare policies. Why? Because almost everyone will qualify for premium-free Part A. A premium, unlike a deductible, must be paid on a consistent basis. If you do not keep up with these monthly payments, you will lose your coverage.
This isn’t the case for most Part A recipients. Premium-free Part A is based on work history—if you qualify for Social Security or railroad retirement benefits, you can get premium-free Part A. You must have earned at least 40 credits (10 years) of work in your lifetime. This applies to almost everyone in the U.S., hence the common understanding that Medicare Part A is “free.”
If you haven’t worked for 10 years, you will have to pay a premium for Part A. The exact amount will vary depending on how much work history you have, but the lowest amount is $259, and the highest (for the least amount of work history) is $471 each month in 2021.
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