Before you make any decisions about Medicare, start by learning more about the components of cost sharing under Part A.

  • Deductible. The fee you must pay for care before Medicare or a private insurance company begins to cover costs. Example: For each hospital stay under Medicare Part A in 2008, you pay a $1,024 deductible.
  • Co-payment (or co-pay). A fixed fee you pay at the time of service. If your hospital stay lasts longer than 60 days in a benefit period, you pay a substantial copayment for each day between 61 and 150 days.
  • Lifetime Reserve. Part A limits the number of long hospital stays (stays of more than 90 days) it pays for. When you join Part A, you get a "lifetime reserve" of 60 days. Each time you stay in a hospital more than 90 days, you use lifetime reserve days to cover the number of days you stay beyond 90. Once you use up your lifetime reserve, Part A pays only for the first 90 days of any hospital stay, subject to the normal deductibles and co-payments. After 90 days, you pay for your own care.

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