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Is Medicare Free?

Part A is Usually Free

Medicare Part A (Hospital coverage) is free for anyone who is 65 or older and who has worked for ten years or more a job paying Medicare taxes  or whose spouse (even if divorced or deceased) has worked for ten years paying Medicare taxes.

If neither you nor a spouse has paid Medicare taxes for ten years, then a monthly Part A premium of up to $407 (in 2015) may apply.

Some people may be able to receive Medicare Part A for free if they are under age 65. In order to be eligible for this benefit, you would need to:

  • Have been receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for 24 months
  • Have End Stage Renal Disease, and meet certain requirements.

Part B is Not Free

Everyone must pay a premium for Medicare Part B.  Most people will pay the standard premium (in 2015) of $104.90 per month. However, if your modified adjusted gross income from two years prior – the most recent tax return information that is provided to Social Security by the IRS – is higher than $85,000 then higher premium rates apply.   The chart below shows the Part B premiums that higher income individuals and households pay in 2015 based on their 2013 tax returns.

File individual tax returnFile joint tax returnFile married and separate tax returnYour monthly Medicare Part B premium (in 2014)
$85,000 or less$170,000 or less$85,000 or less$104.90
Above $85,000 up to $107,000Above $170,000 up to $214,000Not applicable$146.90
Above $107,000 up to $160,000Above $214,000 up to $320,000Not applicable$209.80
Above $160,000 up to $214,000Above $320,000 up to $428,000Above $85,000 and up to $129,000$272.70
Above $214,000Above $428,000Above $129,000$335.70

Source: Medicare.gov

Your Medicare Part B premium may also be higher if you did not sign up for Part B when you first became eligible for it. For instance, if you do not sign up for Medicare Part B when you are initially eligible, the premium for Part B will go up 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Medicare Part B, but didn’t sign up for it. If you later decide to sign up for this coverage, then you may have to pay this higher premium amount for as long as you have Medicare Part B.

For more detail on Part B penalties, see this article.

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