What you pay for Medicare -- and what’s taken out of your Social Security check -- depends on your Medicare plan and your family’s income. 

Medicare beneficiaries choose between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. The federal government offers Original Medicare, which is Parts A and B. Part A covers hospital care; Part B handles physician and outpatient care. 

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Private insurers provide Medicare Advantage plans, also called Part C. Medicare Advantage insurers contract with the federal government to provide coverage for hospital, physician and outpatient care. Medicare Advantage plans also usually offer prescription drug and supplement benefits, including dental and vision. 

Whether you choose Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage is one factor in how much money is taken from your Social Security check to pay for health coverage. 

 

When are you eligible for Social Security and Medicare? 

People are eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. You’ll sign up for coverage at that time. 

Social Security becomes available when you turn 62, but it’s usually not wise to get Social Security benefits at 62. Instead, you should wait until your “retirement age,” so you can receive full Social Security benefits. 

Federal law dictates your retirement age based on when you were born. The retirement age was once 65. However, in the 1980s, Congress passed a law raising the retirement age for those born in 1938 and later. 

For instance, people born 1960 or don’t reach retirement age status until 67. At that time, they can begin to collect full Social Security benefits. 

People born between 1943 and 1954 reach retirement age status at 66. Those who were born in other years should check their specific retirement age

On the flip side, people who delay receiving Social Security until after they reach retirement age status receive larger monthly checks. You can delay Social Security checks until age 70. You can technically delay payments even beyond 70, but you won’t get higher checks once you begin receiving benefits. Waiting until age 70 is when you receive the highest Social Security checks. 

On the plus side, Social Security doesn’t cost you anything. You pay into the system while you’re employed, so you don’t have to pay for the benefit in retirement. On the other hand, Medicare usually charges a monthly premium. How much you pay depends on the type of Medicare plan and your income. 

 

Paying for Medicare when you have Social Security

The federal government takes the premium cost directly out of your Social Security check to pay for Original Medicare. 

However, if you have Medicare Advantage, you can pay the private health insurer directly instead of having the money taken out of your check. The same goes for if you have a Part D prescription drug plan. 

 

How much does Medicare cost?

Part A is free to most Americans. It’s free as long as you paid taxes for at least 40 quarters of Medicare taxes. Those who paid taxes fewer than 40 quarters have to pay $458 monthly for Part A. 

Part B costs $144.60 monthly for most Americans. People who file individual taxes and make more than $87,000 and those who file joint taxes and make more than $174,000 pay more each month. For instance, those who file individual tax returns with family income of $500,000 or more ($750,000 and above for joint filers) pay $491.60 for Part B. 

Meanwhile, Medicare Advantage has different premiums depending on the plan. The average Medicare Advantage monthly premium is $23, but there are plans with zero premiums. Zero-premium plans often have higher deductibles. On the flip side, Medicare Advantage plans with higher premiums often have lower deductibles. 

Part D prescription drug plans also have varied premiums. Your income plays a role in Part D premiums. People who file individual tax returns with family income of more than $87,000 (and joint filers who make more than $174,000) have to pay higher premiums.

No matter the type of Medicare, people on Social Security can let the federal government take the money directly from your Social Security checks. Having the money removed directly from your check means you won’t have to remember to pay for coverage.