Medicare Part A covers inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, although not custodial or long-term care. Part A also helps pay for hospice care and some home health care. Medicare Part A has a deductible ($1,364 in 2019) and coinsurance, which means patients pay a portion of the bill. There is no coinsurance for the first 60 days of inpatient hospital care, for example, but patients typically pay $341 per day for the 61st through 90th day of the hospitalization, and more after that.
Medicare Part B covers doctor visits and other medically necessary services and supplies. That includes preventive services or health care to prevent illness, as well as ambulance services, durable medical equipment, mental health coverage and a few types of outpatient prescription drugs. Medicare Part B requires a monthly premium that starts at $135.50 per month. Single people with adjusted gross incomes over $85,000 and married couples with AGIs over $170,000 pay higher premiums. Medicare Part B has a $185 deductible. After that, you typically pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the services and supplies.
If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B at 65 and later decide you need it, you’ll likely pay a penalty of 10% of the premium for each 12-month period that you delayed. You will pay this penalty for life, basically, since few people drop Medicare Part B once they have it. Claiming ignorance won’t get you excused from this penalty, but you can avoid it if you had health insurance through your job or your spouse’s job when you first became eligible. You must sign up within eight months of when that coverage ends.