Original Medicare (Parts A and B)

What is Original Medicare?

Medicare Parts A and B (Original Medicare) make up the two public health insurance options provided by the government since President Lyndon B. Johnson created the program in 1964. Today, Parts A and B continue to cover many of the health costs for millions of Medicare enrollees. How does Original Medicare succeed in this, and what do the parts cover?

Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A can be thought of as your hospital insurance. It helps to pay for your stay at a health care facility, whether that be a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or nursing home, among others.

At these inpatient facilities, Part A covers many of the services, including meals, a semi-private room, prescription drugs taken during your treatment, and mental health care. Private nursing or rooms are not covered, unless they’re determined to be medically necessary. In some circumstances, Part A can assist with services like hospice or home health care. Contact your doctor to see if you fall into a qualifying category.

Most Americans are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A when they reach full retirement age as long as they’re receiving Social Security benefits. If you elect not to receive Social Security benefits, you won’t be automatically enrolled in Part A at age 65. Depending on when you were born, 65 may not be your full retirement age. Instead, you may need to wait a little longer to begin receiving full retirement benefits. If you’re not at your full retirement age, but want Original Medicare, you’ll have to apply for Medicare benefits separately.

If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes during at least 10 years of work, you qualify for “premium-free” Part A coverage. If you don’t have enough credits, you can still get Medicare, but you must pay for your Part A coverage.

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