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How much do Medicare benefits cost?

You likely won’t have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A, thanks in part to all the payroll taxes you paid while you were employed. You must, however, pay a yearly deductible before Medicare will cover any hospitalization costs. For 2011, the Part A deductible is $1,132.

As a fee-for-service health plan, Original Medicare enables you to see any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare.

Medicare will pay a share, usually 80 percent, of the "Medicare-approved amount," which is the cost Medicare determines is "reasonable" for the care you received, given where you live.

If you live in a city, it’s worth remembering that doctors in urban areas tend to charge more for their services, and since the "Medicare-approved amount" isn't always raised accordingly, you could end up with higher than expected expenses.

To better predict your out-of-pocket costs, be sure to ask both Medicare and your doctor’s billing department about fees and coverage.

Part A pays about 80 percent of your Medicare-approved, inpatient costs for the first 60 days you are hospitalized. If you have a longer hospital stay, you will have to pay a larger share of the costs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.