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What is Medicare Part A?

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By now, you have probably seen that Medicare has several parts categorized with letters A, B, C, and D. Medicare Part A is one of the four components of the federal government health insurance program for seniors and other eligible persons. Here, we will focus on what Medicare Part A is and how to sign up or apply for Medicare Part A.

Medicare Part A is offered in the Original Medicare Plan option. Medical Part A helps you pay for costs related to inpatient hospital stays and medical procedures, drugs, and other services received as an inpatient.

To apply for Medicare Part A, you must meet certain conditions to get the benefits provided under Medicare Part A. Before signing up for Medicare Part A, talk to your healthcare provider about the services or supplies you may need and ask if Medicare will cover them.

Medicare coverage is based on state and federal laws, national coverage decisions made by Medicare about which items are covered, and local coverage decisions made by the carriers in each state that process Medicare claims.



Part A is sometimes called “premium-free Part A” because most people do not have to pay a monthly premium for this coverage. To become eligible for premium-free Part A, you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for a certain amount of time while working.

For those that are under 65 years old, another way to acquire premium-free Part A is by earning Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for two years. Those that are over 65 and get retirement benefits — or are eligible to receive these benefits but have yet to file for them — from these systems can also get premium-free Part A. Likewise, retired 65-year-olds can also qualify for premium-free Part A if they (or their spouse) had Medicare-covered government employment.


    Some people get Medical Part A automatically when they apply for disability or retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board. Others have to sign up for Medicare Part A.

    Most people receive Medicare Part A for free because they have already paid the Medicare payroll tax during their working years.

    For those who have not yet collected Social Security at age 65, sign up for Medicare Part A by enrolling in Medicare online, by phone, or at a Social Security office.

    You will be subjected to questions to determine your premium-free Part A Medicare eligibility. You must pay the premium to receive your Part A Medicare benefits if you are not eligible.


    If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A, you can still purchase Part A by paying a monthly premium. The amount you pay each month depends on how long you (or your spouse) have worked and paid Medicare taxes. In 2023, the standard Part A premium will be either $278 or $506 depending on these work credits. If you choose not to purchase Part A, you can still get Part B by enrolling and paying the monthly Part B premium. Typically, if you choose to enroll in Part A, you are also required to also enroll in and pay the monthly premium for Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance).


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