You may be familiar with insurance deductibles. Many homeowners and car insurance policies charge a deductible whenever you file a claim.
A health insurance deductible is usually charged once for the plan year. Starting January 1 or whenever your plan year begins, you pay your health care costs up to the deductible amount. After that, your health plan kicks in to help pay the cost of your care for the rest of the plan year. The cycle starts over at the beginning of each new plan year.
Medicare Part A deductibles are different. They are charged for each benefit period rather than for the year.
What Is A Benefit Period?
In Medicare Part A, which is hospital insurance, a benefit period begins the day you go into a hospital or skilled nursing facility and ends when you have been out for 60 days in a row. If you go back into the hospital after 60 days, then a new benefit period starts, and the deductible happens again. You would be responsible for paying two deductibles in this case – one for each benefit period – even if you’re in the hospital both times for the same health problem.
Here's an example of how your hospital care may use two benefit periods.
Margaret is admitted to the hospital in January and stays 5 days. She is readmitted in April and stays for 65 days. More than 60 days pass between Margaret being released and readmitted. Margaret’s second hospitalization starts a new benefit period, and she must pay another deductible. She is in the hospital over 60 days this time, so she must also pay a co-pay for 5 days. For 2021, the Part A deductible is $1,484 and the daily copay is $371.