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Medicare Part A Premium 2021

Learn what factors impact the cost of your monthly Part A premium.

What Is the 2021 Premium Amount for Medicare Part A?


Medicare Part A covers services such as inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, home health care, and hospice care. For the majority of individuals that enrollee in Medicare, their Part A coverage will be provided premium-free. This means that they’re not required to pay a monthly premium for their Part A coverage.


However, if you’re an individual that does not qualify for premium-free Part A, you’ll be required to pay a monthly premium for your Part A coverage.



The exact amount you must pay will depend on two factors:

  • The number of quarters you have paid FICA tax.

  • When you purchase your Part A coverage.


If you, or your spouse, have paid Medicare taxes for 40 quarters or more (i.e. 10 years), you’ll qualify for premium-free Part A coverage. Medicare taxes are part of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax, otherwise known as FICA tax. FICA tax, which includes Medicare tax and Social Security tax, is withheld from your wages.


However, if you’re an individual that has not paid the full 40 quarters of FICA taxes, you’ll have to pay a monthly premium for your Part A coverage.


For those that have only paid Medicare taxes for 30 – 39 quarters (i.e. between 7.5 and 9.75 years), the standard Part A monthly premium is $259.


And for those individuals purchasing Medicare Part A that have paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters (i.e. 7.5 years), the standard Part A monthly premium is $471.


Note, however, that the amounts listed here are standard monthly premium amounts. If you wait until after you’re first eligible to enroll in Medicare Part A, a late penalty may apply to your premium.


In the case of your Part A coverage, the longer you wait to enroll, the longer you’ll be required to pay a higher Part A premium amount due to penalty.



How Does a Late Penalty Affect My Part A Premium?


If you’re an individual that does not qualify for premium-free Part A but would like to purchase Part A coverage, you’ll want to purchase this coverage when first becoming eligible for Medicare.


The period in which you’re first eligible to enroll in Medicare is known as your Initial Enrollment Period. This period begins 3 months prior to your 65th birthday month, includes your birthday month, then extends for an additional 3 months after.



If you wait until this period is over to enroll in Part A, you may be subject to a late penalty that would increase your standard monthly premium amount by 10%.


How long you end up having to pay this late penalty will depend on how long you waited to enroll. The higher premium amount due to late penalty will be applied for twice the amount of years that you did not sign up for Part A once eligible.


So, for example, say that you’ve been eligible to purchase Medicare Part A for the past 3 years but have not yet done so. When you enroll in Part A, you’ll have to pay the 10% higher premium for 6 years. 6 years is twice the amount of years (3 years) that you did not sign up for Part A once you were eligible to do so.


Note, however, that if you meet certain conditions you may be allowed to sign up during a special enrollment period and therefore avoid paying the late penalty.


Additionally, if you’re an individual with limited income and resources, your state may offer to help you pay for Medicare Parts A and B, as well as Medicare prescription drug coverage if you qualify for Extra Help.



How Do I Know if I Qualify for Premium-Free Medicare Part A?


As we noted above, the most common scenario for those enrolling in Medicare is premium-free Part A coverage. For those of you that are already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare.


In the months prior to your 65th birthday you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail along with information that details your coverage.


If you’re not already receiving these benefits and are curious as to whether or not you qualify for premium-free Part A, check the following criteria to see if any apply:

  • You are 65 years old and you (or your spouse) have paid Medicare taxes (FICA) for 10 years.

  • You already receive benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.

  • You are eligible for benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board but have not yet filed for them.

  • You are disabled and you (or your spouse) have paid FICA taxes for 10 years. In this case, you are eligible for Medicare once you have received Social Security benefits for 2 years.


Another helpful way to check your eligibility and premium cost is through use of Medicare’s Eligibility & Premium Calculator. Enter your information for the questions provided by this tool to get an estimate of when you are eligible for Medicare and what your premium amount will be.



What Is the Change in Part A Premium Price for 2021?


The standard Part A premium has increased in cost from the previous year for both those that have paid less than 30 quarters of FICA tax and those that have paid between 30 and 40 quarters.


For those that have paid less than 30 quarters of FICA tax, the standard Part A premium has increased $13 to a new monthly cost of $471 for 2021. The previous year’s standard Part A premium was $458 (2020).



For those that have paid between 30 and 40 quarters of FICA tax, the standard Part A premium has increased $7 to a new monthly cost of $259 for 2021. The previous year’s standard Part A premium was $252 (2020).




What to Keep in Mind When Purchasing Part A Coverage


Important! If you don’t qualify for premium-free Part A and are considering purchasing coverage, know that you will also need to purchase Medicare Part B, as well. Medicare Part A cannot be purchased on its own.


So, keep in mind that you will then be paying two monthly premiums for your Medicare coverage, Part A and Part B.


Remember, for the vast majority of enrollees Medicare Part A coverage is premium-free. For those that do not qualify, the amount your monthly premium will cost is dependent on the number of quarters you, or your spouse, have paid FICA tax (Medicare tax).


Also, remember that if you’re purchasing Part A coverage, be sure to do so during your Initial Enrollment Period. Putting off your enrollment may result in late penalties that will extend in duration the longer you prolong enrolling.




Helpful Resources

Medicare: Costs At A Glance

Medicare: Part A Late Enrollment Penalty

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