Medicare recipients have a number of out-of-pocket costs, including premiums, deductibles, and co-insurance or co-payments.
How Medicare premiums are paid depends on which part you're paying and whether you collect benefits from either Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). This post describes your various options for paying your Medicare premiums. We also look at how to qualify for help paying your premiums and the income limits that may result in you having to pay an IRMAA (income-related monthly adjustment amount).
How do you pay your premiums for Original Medicare?
Original Medicare includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). If you collect Social Security or RRB benefits, your Part B premium is automatically deducted from your monthly payment.
Those who do not yet collect retirement benefits are billed for their Medicare premiums. You have four options to pay.
How to pay with Medicare Easy Pay
If the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) sends you a bill for one or more premiums, you can enroll in Medicare Easy Pay. To sign up, complete the Authorization Agreement for Pre-authorized Payments (form SF-5510).
Mail your completed form to: Medicare Premium Collection Center, PO Box 979098, St Louis, MO 63197-9000.
It can take up to two months for Medicare to process your form. If it cannot be processed, Medicare notifies you via U.S. mail.
When your form is accepted, you'll receive a Medicare Premium Bill. This form states clearly that it is not a bill and verifies that your premium will now be deducted from the bank account you entered on the authorization form.
Medicare Easy Pay deductions typically occur on the 20th of every month. The payment shows on your statement as an ACH (automated clearing house) transaction.
In the event your bank rejects or returns the deduction, Medicare will send a letter that explains how to make up the payment.
You don't need to do anything if your premium amount changes; Medicare Easy Pay automatically deducts the new amount.
If you need to change or cease Medicare Easy Pay, complete another SF-5510 form and mail it to the address listed above.
How to pay online with a credit or debit card
You may use your MyMedicare.gov account to pay your Medicare bill with a credit or debit card. The payment shows on your statement as being made to CMS Medicare. When you complete the payment, you'll receive a confirmation number. Keep a copy of it for your records.
How to pay your Medicare premium with online bill pay
Online bill pay lets you pay directly from your checking or savings account. To set it up, you need your 11-digit Medicare ID number (found on your new Medicare card).
The payee name is CMS Medicare Insurance. The address is: Medicare Premium Collection Center, PO Box 790355, St Louis, MO 63179-0355.
Make sure the payment amount and date are correct, particularly if scheduling a recurring payment. When your premium changes, you are responsible for updating the correct payment amount.
Not all banks handle online bill pay the same way. Check with your bank to see whether they charge a fee to process electronic payments. You also need to know whether they send a paper check or if the payment is processed electronically. If it's the former, you need to allow more time for the payment to travel from your bank to the Medicare Premium Collection Center.
Mailing your premium payment to Medicare
If you have not arranged for electronic payment or Medicare Easy Pay, your Medicare bill comes with a payment coupon. To mail your payment to Medicare, complete this coupon and send it along with your payment method. Your choices are:
- Money order
- Credit card
- Debit card
Mail your payment coupon and payment to: Medicare Premium Collection Center, PO Box 790355, St Louis, MO 63179-0355.
How to pay your Medicare premium through the Railroad Retirement Board
None of the above applies if you receive your Medicare bill from the Railroad Retirement Board. Instead, you must mail your premium payment to: RRB, Medicare Premium Payments; PO Box 979024; St Louis, MO 63197-9000.
How to pay monthly premiums for Medicare Part D, Medigap, and Medicare Advantage plans
Private insurance companies provide Medicare Advantage (MA), Medigap, and Part D prescription drug plans. Your options for paying these premiums vary according to the insurance company that sold you the plan. In general, though, most providers allow for payment via automatic debit, credit card, or check.
You may also choose to have your payment deducted from your Social Security check. Please note that it usually takes a couple of months for this to take effect. Also, if you change plans during Annual Enrollment or the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP), the Social Security Administration (SSA) may continue paying your old plan for a couple of months after the change occurs. SSA will reimburse you later.
How to read your Medicare bill
The upper right-hand corner of your Medicare bill contains a box that tells you what type of bill it is. If that box says:
- This is not a bill: You enrolled in Medicare Easy Pay and your premium payment comes out automatically on the 20th. You don't need to do anything.
- First Bill: This is either the very first bill you've received OR your last bill was paid in full. Pay the total amount due by the 25th. For example, if the billing date is March 27, your payment is due by April 25 or it's considered late.
- Second Bill: This means that Medicare did not receive your payment for the First Bill. As above, you must pay the full amount due by the 25th.
- Delinquent Bill: Medicare did not receive payment for the First or Second Bill. You must send in payment for the entire amount due by the 25th to keep your Medicare coverage.
If you fail to pay the Delinquent Bill, you lose coverage and will not receive another Medicare bill.
What happens if you don't pay your Medicare premium on time?
Failure to pay your Medicare premiums on time may result in you losing your coverage. However, this does not happen right away.
How many months the process takes depends on the Medicare "part" in question. Medicare Part B is billed – and paid – quarterly. That means you receive a bill every three months. So, by the time you receive the Delinquent Bill, 6 months have passed.
It's different for Parts A and D. Those are billed monthly. You should receive the Delinquent Bill after only 2 months have passed.
How to get help paying your Medicare premiums
If you have trouble paying your Medicare premiums, call 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
You may also qualify for a Medicare Savings Program or Extra Help. Contact your state's Medicaid office for assistance.
How much is the Medicare Part A premium?
Most people worked and paid Medicare taxes for the required 40 quarters (around 10 years) to qualify for premium-free Part A. You can also qualify for premium-free Part A under your spouse's work history.
If you or your spouse did not pay Medicare taxes for 10 years, you may buy Part A insurance.
- The standard Part A premium in 2023 is $506 per month
- If you paid Medicare taxes for 30 to 39 quarters, you may buy Part A for $278 per month
Medicare beneficiaries who buy Part A are billed monthly, with payments due by the 25th.
How much is the Medicare Part B premium?
Most people pay the standard premium for Medicare Part B, which is $164.90 in 2023.
If your income exceeds certain limits, your premium may be higher. Known as IRMAA, this surcharge varies according to your annual income. Social Security bases its decision on your adjusted gross income from two years ago. If you've experienced a permanent income change since then, you may appeal the decision.
The following table from Medicare explains what you pay for Parts B and D each month based on your income:
How much is the Medicare Part D premium?
As private insurance companies sell Part D prescription drug plans, premiums vary widely. However, as with Part B, adjust gross income levels dictate whether you have to pay the IRMAA surcharge. (See the table above for how much IRMAA adds to your monthly Part D premium.)
Even though you pay your standard Part D premium to your insurance company, the IRMAA surcharge is billed by – and paid to – Medicare. You may pay it using one of the four methods listed above.
If you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, you automatically qualify for Extra Help paying your Part D premium.
Are you looking for a Medicare Part D plan? It's easy with our Find a Plan tool. Just enter your zip code to start comparing Part D plans in your area.