• Most people don’t receive a bill from Medicare for their Part A and Part B premiums.
  • If you do receive a bill (Medicare form CMS-500), you can pay it online through your bank or Medicare Easy Pay.
  • You can use your debit or credit card to pay, either online or by mailing your credit card information to Medicare.
  • You can also pay using a check or money order.

Most people don’t receive a bill from Medicare for their premiums. People who worked at least 40 quarters (10 years) don’t pay a premium for Medicare Part A coverage because they paid payroll taxes while they were employed.

People receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits have their Medicare premiums deducted automatically from the amount they receive.

But if you didn’t build up enough work credits and you pay a premium for Medicare Part A, or if you aren’t yet receiving retirement benefits, you may get a monthly or quarterly bill directly from Medicare (Form CMS-500) for your premium.

You may also get a bill if you pay an additional amount for your Medicare Part B or Part D premiums because your income is higher. This is known as an income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA).

Like many other federal service providers, Medicare has created several ways for you to pay your premiums easily. Read on to learn more about what you need to know and the different ways you can pay.

Here are a few useful things to know about your Medicare premium bill.

Expect the bill around the 10th day of the month

Medicare premium bills usually arrive on or around the 10th day of each month. Some people only receive a bill once every 3 months; others receive their bills monthly.

You’re paying for next month’s coverage

Medicare bills you for the upcoming month, rather than the month you’re currently in.

So, if you’re billed every month and you get a bill in January, you’re paying for coverage in February. If you’re billed every 3 months and you get a bill in June, your payment is for coverage in July, August, and September.

The amount due may be higher than you expected

Your bill could be higher than expected for several reasons:

  • You enrolled late or have reenrolled. Your premium amount could be higher than expected if you enrolled in Part B late or you reenrolled after leaving the program earlier.
  • You may have missed a payment. Check the form to see when Medicare last received a payment from you. The date is printed on the form.
  • Your premium may have gone up. Medicare premiums increase a little each year.
  • You didn’t work 40 quarters. If you haven’t worked 40 quarters (about 10 years), your Part A premium is based on the number of months you worked and paid payroll taxes. If you worked between 30 and 39 quarters, your Part A premium is $259 in 2021. If you worked fewer than 30 quarters, your Part A premium is $471.
  • You’re paying for Part B, too. Sometimes people who pay premiums for Part A coverage are required to buy Part B coverage, too. If that’s the case, your bill may be higher than you expected because it includes premiums for both Part A and Part B.
  • You’re paying an IRMAA. If you have to pay a Part D or Part B IRMAA because your income is higher, that additional cost will be included in your bill for Part B premiums. You’ll still pay your Part D premium to your insurance company directly. Form CMS-500 is just the IRMAA amount related to your Part D plan.

If you change your Medicare Advantage plan during an enrollment period and your premium payments are deducted from your Social Security benefits, it may take several months for the Social Security Administration to stop making payments to one provider and start making them to another.

If that happens, Social Security will reimburse you for extra payments to your old insurer.

Medicare accepts several forms of payment, so use whichever method is easiest and most convenient for you.

Medicare Easy Pay

If you have a secure MyMedicare.gov account, you can sign up for Medicare Easy Pay, which will automatically deduct your payments from your checking or savings account every month. Medicare Easy Pay is free.

Automatic payments

If you’d prefer to have your bank manage the transaction, you can set up automatic payments through your online banking institution.

Medicare can’t make arrangements with your personal bank, though. You’ll need to contact your bank to arrange the autopay.

Credit or debit card

You can pay your premium with a credit or debit card in two ways:

  1. You can log into your secure MyMedicare.gov account and use your credit or debit card to make an online payment each month. It’s important to note that you won’t be able to set up an automatic monthly payment to Medicare on your credit or debit card. You’ll need to log in and make the payment before the due date every month. The payment will show up as “CMS Medicare” on your billing statement.
  2. You can write your credit or debit card information on the tear-off portion of your Medicare bill and mail it to Medicare.

Check or money order

You can also send payments by check or money order to the address on your Medicare bill. Use the tear-off coupon so your payment isn’t delayed.

You cannot make a payment to Medicare over the phone.

Your payment is due on the 25th of the same month you received the bill. It’s important to pay the bill by the due date.

If you don’t pay the full amount on time, you could lose your Medicare coverage. Making a partial payment might not keep Medicare from canceling your coverage.

If you don’t pay the amount due after you receive the first bill, you’ll receive a second bill. Your late bill might have the word “Delinquent” printed at the top.

If you don’t pay the full amount due, your coverage will stop on the termination date shown on the Form CMS-500. If you lose your coverage, you won’t be able to reapply until the next general enrollment period (January 1 through March 31).

Help paying Medicare premiums

If you need help paying your Medicare premiums, you may qualify for one of these programs for lower-income Medicare beneficiaries:

  • Medicaid. Medicaid is run jointly by state and federal governments. It’s a healthcare safety net program.
  • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program. The QMB program offers help paying Medicare Part A and Part B deductibles, premiums, copays, and coinsurance.
  • Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) program. The SLMB program helps you pay Medicare Part B premiums.
  • Qualifying Individual (QI) program. The QI program helps you pay Part B premiums if you don’t qualify for Medicaid.
  • Qualified Disabled and Working Individual (QDWI) program. The QDWI program helps pay Medicare Part A premiums.
  • Extra Help. The Extra Help program offers assistance paying your Part D drug coverage premiums.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) plans are offered by private insurance companies, so you pay your premium directly to the insurer.

Depending on your plan, you may be able to have your premium deducted from your Social Security benefits each month. Most plans allow you to mail payments by check or money order, and many offer online automatic payment options, too.

When you first join a plan, if you’ve elected to pay your premiums out of your Social Security benefits, it could take a few months for the deductions to begin. That means that your first premium amount could take a large part of your benefit payment.

When you reapply during general enrollment, your coverage isn’t active again until July 1 of that year. Your Part A premiums may increase, and you may have to pay a lifetime late enrollment fee for your Part B coverage.

What happens if you don’t pay the IRMAA for your Part D plan?

If you don’t pay the full amount due, you could lose your Part D coverage, even if you have prescription drug coverage through your Medicare Advantage plan or through a job-based health insurance plan.

You’ll still be able to sign up for Part D coverage during the next enrollment period, but you might have to pay a steep monthly penalty for as long as you have Medicare prescription drug coverage.

  • Most people don’t receive a bill directly from Medicare for their premiums. If you do, you have several ways to pay it.
  • You can pay online, by either scheduling automatic electronic payments through your bank or using Medicare Easy Pay. You can also pay online with your debit or credit card.
  • Medicare allows you to send credit or debit card payments through the mail. You can also mail checks or money orders directly to Medicare.
  • Bills generally arrive around the 10th day of the month and are due on the 25th day of the month. Depending on your plan, your bill might come once per month or once every 3 months.
  • It’s important to pay premiums on time. If you don’t you could lose your coverage.
  • If you reapply for coverage during the next enrollment period, you could end up paying higher premiums or long-term penalties.

This article was updated on November 20, 2020, to reflect 2021 Medicare information.