Medicare Part A is premium-free for most people if they, or their spouse, paid Medicare taxes while employed. If you don’t qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A you may be able to purchase it if you meet certain criteria. While monthly premiums were not available as of the printing of the 2011 Medicare Handbook, premiums for 2010 were up to $461, depending on the number of quarters worked while paying Social Security Taxes.
If you can purchase Medicare Part A, but don’t when you are first eligible, you may have to pay an additional 10% on your monthly premium. This higher premium will be paid for twice the number of years you were eligible but did not participate. There are conditions that would allow you to avoid the 10% increase.
Medicare Part A will pay all of your hospice care, but does not cover room and board if given in your place of residence. Prescriptions for symptom and pain management require a copayment of up to $5 each.
In 2010, if you stayed in a skilled nursing facility, Medicare Part A covered all the costs for the first 20 days of each benefit period. You’re cost would have been $135.50 for days 21-100, and you would be responsible for all costs after day 100 in each benefit period
In 2010 there was a $1,100 deductible with no coinsurance for the first 60 days of a benefit period. You would be responsible for $275 for each day between 61 and 90, and $550 per “lifetime reserve day” for up to 60 days over your lifetime. Inpatient mental health is only covered for 190 days in a lifetime. Additional doctor fees may be incurred during your stay.
Medicare Part A fully covers home health care services, along with 80% of the Medicare-approved amount for the cost of durable medical equipment.