Like most seniors, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Medicare – you may even know that it’s a federally funded health insurance program. But if you’re not enrolled, you may not understand in detail the different parts of the program and how they work together to provide health insurance coverage. If you’re approaching the age of 65 and interested in learning more about Medicare Part A and Part B, here’s some information to get you started.
What Is Medicare Part A – Hospital Insurance
Medicare coverage is divided into several parts, which are differentiated by letters of the alphabet. Medicare Part A is one of the basics, providing hospitalization coverage, including hospital stay, skilled nursing facility care, home health care (skilled nursing, physical therapy), and hospice care. For most people, Medicare Part A is premium-free, meaning there is no charge for coverage as long as you meet a few basic eligibility requirements.
Generally, as long as you are a permanent resident of the United States and you or a spouse paid Social Security taxes while employed, enrollment is automatic. While Medicare Part A is free, there are deductibles and co-insurance that you are responsible for paying.
What Is Medicare Part B – Medical Expenses
Medicare Part B covers expenses that are medically necessary to treat or prevent a disease or condition. Basically, other fees that occur outside of room and board while in the hospital- those related to diagnostic testing, preventative care, and the supplies needed to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Fees for visiting the doctor are also included in Medicare Part B. Medicare Part B pays 80 percent of approved charges. Part B is not premium-free.
The standard Part B premium amount in 2023 is $164.90 (or higher depending on your income). However, most people who get Social Security benefits pay less than this amount. This is because the Part B premium increased more than the cost-of-living increase for Social Security benefits.