Over the course of your working life, you have paid into Medicare through payroll taxes. In fact,
both you and your employer have contributed in this way. The current rate most people pay for
Medicare is 1.45% for the employer and 1.45% for the employee, for a total of 2.9%, as of 2024.
As a result, most who enroll in Medicare have been paying into the system for decades.

First, let’s review the basics. Medicare Part A covers inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing
facility care, hospice care and home health care. Medicare Part B covers outpatient/medical
coverage, including doctors office visits and services. Together, both parts are known as Original
Medicare.

A premium is the regular amount you pay for your insurance policy. It is often paid monthly or
quarterly. A deductible is the initial amount you must pay out of pocket before your coverage
kicks in.

Most people who enroll in Medicare receive Part A for free, meaning they have no premiums for
this coverage. However, they will still have to meet a deductible. In 2024, that deductible is
$1,632 for each hospital admittance per benefit period.

You will receive premium-free Part A if you or your current or former spouse worked and paid
into Medicare for 10 years, or 40 quarters, while working. For each quarter you work, you
receive one work credit. You can earn up to four work credits per year. You do not need work
credits to enroll in Medicare Part B.

If you do not meet the requirements for free Part A, you may be able to buy Part A. You will
either pay $278 or $505 each month for Part A, depending on how long you or your spouse
worked and paid Medicare taxes.

If you have to buy Part A, and you don’t enroll when first eligible for Medicare, your monthly
premium may go up 10%. You will have to pay the penalty for twice the number of years you
didn’t sign up.

If you are unsure if you qualify for free Part A, log into (or create) your Social Security account at
https://secure.ssa.gov/ to view your earnings history.

It is important to understand these eligibility requirements and enroll in Medicare as soon as you
are eligible to avoid late enrollment penalties.