Medicare Part A covers inpatient care provided in hospitals or skilled nursing facilities, home health care services and hospice care for the terminally ill.

Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) are managed by the federal government. Individuals who receive Social Security benefits are automatically enrolled in Original Medicare as they approach their 65th birthday.


Premium There is no premium for Part A if you or your spouse contributed to Social Security for at least 10 years. Otherwise, an option to buy Medicare Part A is available.
Deductible You must first meet a Part A deductible before Part A helps with your covered medical costs, similar to how Part B works.
Copays A copay or cost sharing may apply to specific services, such as extended stays in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

Part A has coinsurance for:

  • Inpatient hospital care lasting between 61 and 90 days total per benefit period.
  • Inpatient mental health care lasting between 61 and 90 days total per benefit period.
  • Skilled nursing care lasting between 21 and 100 days total per benefit period.

Coinsurance is also available for a limited number of additional days.


The following coverage restrictions apply to Medicare Part A:

  • Inpatient hospital care is limited to 90 days total per benefit period.
  • Inpatient mental care is limited to 90 days total per benefit period.
  • Skilled nursing care is limited to 100 days total per benefit period.

For each type of care, you can receive coverage for 60 additional days throughout your lifetime. These are known as "lifetime reserve days."

Things to Consider

  • Coverage can be used anywhere in the United States.
  • Most hospitals in the U.S. participate in Medicare.


Learn more about Medicare Part A enrollment.

Initial Enrollment Period

The Initial Enrollment Period is a limited window of time when you can enroll in Original Medicare (Part A and/or Part B). After you are enrolled in Medicare you can, if interested, select other coverage options from approved private insurers.

When to Enroll    How to Enroll

Late Enrollment and Changes to Medicare Coverage

Your Initial Enrollment Period provides a limited time window to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare). If you miss your enrollment period you can still enroll later, but you must manually apply for Medicare A and B.

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Choosing Other Medicare Coverage

After you enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B, you can choose a Medicare coverage option (such as a Medicare Advantage plan). You can update your coverage later, during the annual Open Enrollment Period. However, if you elect to receive Prescription Drug Coverage (Medicare D) coverage after your Initial Enrollment Period, a late enrollment penalty may be added to your premium.

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Medicare overview information on this website was developed by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to help consumers understand certain aspects about Medicare. Viewing this Medicare overview does not require you to enroll in any Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. To find out about premiums and terms for these and other insurance options, how to apply for coverage, and for much more information, contact your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company. Each Blue Cross Blue Shield company is responsible for the information that it provides. For more information about Medicare including a complete listing of plans available in your service area, please contact the Medicare program at 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048) or visit

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.