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When you have Medicare Part A eligibility, you’re covered by one of the largest federal programs in the country. Medicare Part A will cover the inpatient hospital care portion of your healthcare.

But how do you know if you qualify for Medicare? And what do you need to know about signing up for Medicare? Learning about your Medicare Part A eligibility is the first step toward choosing a plan that best works for your needs.

What Is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A, also known as hospital insurance, can cover your inpatient hospital care, home health services, skilled nursing facility care, and hospice care. Medicare Part A is automatically included when you are enrolled in or sign up for Medicare.

Medicare Part A is only one component of Original Medicare. Part B, also known as medical insurance, is the other half of Original Medicare. It covers outpatient services, such as doctor visits, mammograms, diabetes treatment, and prostate screenings.1 Most people have to sign up for Part B for it to be included in their Medicare coverage.

Understanding Medicare Part A Eligibility

Like many American citizens, you may be automatically enrolled2 in Medicare coverage if one of the following applies to you:
  • You're 65 and already receive benefits from Social Security.
  • You’re 65 and already receive benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB).
  • You're under 65, have a disability, and are receiving disability benefits.
  • You have ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease) or ESRD (End-Stage Renal Disease).

If any of the above Medicare Part A eligibility qualifications apply to you, then you’re considered Medicare eligible. Your Medicare card will be mailed to you three months before your 65th birthday or on your 25th month of disability.

If you aren’t getting benefits from Social Security (or the RRB) at least four months before you turn 65, you'll need to sign up with Social Security directly.2

How Do I Apply for Medicare Part A Only?

If you aren’t automatically enrolled in Medicare, you can sign up through the Social Security Administration website. You’ll see easy-to-follow instructions on how to sign up online, by phone, or in person at a local office. 

Is Medicare Part A Free?

You do not pay a premium for Medicare Part A if you have worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years, or 40 employment quarters.3

Can You Get Medicare If You Never Worked?

Yes, you can get Medicare if you’ve never worked, but you’ll have to pay a monthly premium. In 2020, Part A monthly premiums are up to $471 for seniors who paid Medicare taxes for less than seven years and six months, or 30 employment quarters. Seniors who paid Medicare taxes up to nine years and nine months, or 39 employment quarters, pay $259 for a Part A monthly premium.4

Am I Eligible for Medicare Part A?

Figuring out Medicare Part A eligibility and how to sign up for Medicare can be confusing. If you're still uncertain whether you qualify for Medicare Part A, HealthMarkets can help.

We can also help you determine whether Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage is right for you. We can help you shop for and compare Medicare plans online to find the right fit for your needs.


1. What Part B covers. Retrieved from Accessed January 12, 2021. | 2. How do I get Parts A & B? Retrieved from Accessed December 28, 2020. | 3. Part A costs. Retrieved from Accessed December 28, 2020. | 4. 2021 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles. November 6, 2020. Retrieved from 

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