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Most people over the age of 65, regardless of finances, are entitled to Medicare Part A at no costs, based on your or your spouse’s employment history. If, for some reason you are not eligible, you can enroll at a cost – a bit less than $200 per month for Part A. Part A covers semi-private rooms in a hospital, meals, nursing service, lab tests, X-rays, drugs (given at the hospital), operating room costs, rehab, and blood transfusions. However, Part A does not cover personal conveniences, private duty nurses, or private rooms (unless it is absolutely medically necessary).

Part A has a high deductible, around $850 for each benefit period. A benefit period is the way that Medicare measures your use of hospital and skilled nursing facility services. A benefit period begins the day you go to a hospital or skilled nursing facility. The benefit period ends when you haven’t received hospital or skilled nursing care for 60 days in a row. If you go into the hospital after one benefit period has ended, a new benefit period begins. You must pay the inpatient hospital deductible for each benefit period. There is no limit to the number of benefit periods you can have, however.

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