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On Medicare: Why is my Part A premium an extra $506?

Dear Toni: My husband, John, and I believe I made a mistake enrolling in Medicare. This April, John was laid off from a company he was employed with for more than 20 years and lost his employer health insurance. John is a veteran, receiving his health care from Veterans Affairs. As his health care is not costing us anything, he did not have to enroll in Medicare.

Since I am turning 65 in July, I have enrolled in Medicare. But I am not sure if I enrolled properly, because my Medicare is costing me an extra $506 for Part A and $164.90 for Part B. I thought Medicare Part A was free.

I have not worked much since we married 40 years ago. I was a stay-at-home mom, and I now am the caretaker for John’s elderly parents. Please explain what I should do to correct my Medicare mistake. — Susan, Cleveland

Dear Susan: Many Americans do not realize that they must work a certain amount of time and pay employment taxes to have Medicare Part A with no premium. This is most likely the cause of your problem.

To qualify for Medicare Part A at no cost, you must have worked and paid Social Security and Medicare taxes from your payroll check for 10 years, or 40 quarters. If you paid Medicare taxes for 30 to 39 quarters, then the standard Part A premium is $278 each month. If you paid Medicare taxes for fewer than 30 quarters, the premium for Medicare Part A in 2023 is $506 each month.

However, those who do not qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A but who have been married for 10 years or more to an individual who has met the 10 years/40 quarters requirement should apply for Medicare under their working spouse’s Social Security number. Susan, you should have applied under John’s account.

The Toni Says team’s advice would be to contact your local Social Security office. Tell the representative that you need to appeal your Medicare Part A premium of $506 and that your husband worked enough quarters to qualify for premium-free Part A.

Social Security will look over your husband’s Social Security accounts and verify that he has enough quarters to qualify. Be prepared to provide a certified license showing you are married. You will have to provide the original certified marriage license, not a copy, to Social Security.

Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. If you have a Medicare question, email info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664. Visit seniorresource.com/medicare-moments to listen to her Medicare Moments podcasts.

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