Medicare Part A: Easy to Understand Guide to Medicare Part A


Medicare Part A is a government-funded hospital insurance intended to benefit certain individuals. Qualifying Medicare Part A recipients receive insurance for many hospital inpatient services with only a 20% co-payment or coinsurance payment required for some services.



If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while you were working, you typically won’t have to pay a premium for Part A. However, if you qualify for Part A, but didn’t pay enough taxes to avoid a premium, you can still purchase coverage for up to $443 a month.


Video: Medicare in Simple Terms (HCFA)

Taxes Paid to Qualify for Medicare

To qualify for Medicare, you must have paid a certain amount of taxes and earned a certain number of “credits.” The amount of earnings needed to earn one credit changes each year. In 2009, the amount you need to earn to get one credit is $1,090. You can earn a maximum of four credits in one calendar year. If you were born after 1929, you need 40 credits to qualify for Medicare. That’s 10 years of work. If you were born before 1929, subtract one credit for every year before 1929 you were born. For example, you would need 38 credits if you were born in 1927.


medicare part a

What is Covered By Medicare Part A?

The following is a list of services that are covered by Medicare Part A. If you have additional questions about covered services, you can visit the Medicare website or call 1-800-633-4227. 




Home Health Services



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Hospice Care


Hospital Stays


Skilled Nursing Facility Care


Part A Primary Insurance

You may have multiple insurance policies, especially if you are still covered under an employer’s group health insurance plan. In that type of situation, you typically have to select a primary insurance, which is the insurance that gets billed first. Once your primary insurance pays its share, the secondary insurance typically kicks in and pays the difference.