En español | If you or your spouse has earned at least 40 credits through paying Medicare payroll taxes at work, you are automatically entitled to Part A benefits (which cover stays in the hospital, home health services and hospice care) and you do not pay premiums for them. Therefore you cannot be liable for late penalties, even if you sign up later than you should. Otherwise, you’d pay penalties, except in certain circumstances.
Part A late penalties amount to an extra 10 percent of your current Part A premium added to the premium. Part A premiums are expensive — in 2017, they are $227 a month if you’ve earned 30 to 39 work credits, or $413 a month if you have fewer than 30 credits. However, unlike Part B late penalties, that 10 percent is not multiplied by the number of years you delayed enrollment, and you don’t have to pay them forever. You continue to pay Part A penalties for twice the number of years that you could have paid premiums for Part A but didn’t. For example, if you delayed enrollment for three years, you’d pay penalties for six years.
There are some exceptions:
One important point: If you don’t yet qualify for Part A benefits without paying premiums, and you’re not covered under current employer health insurance, don’t be tempted to delay enrollment in Part B (which covers doctors’ services, outpatient care and medical equipment) until you become entitled for premium-free Part A. If you delay, you will likely receive Part B late penalties, which you’ll have to pay for all future years. This rule applies to anyone who is a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident (green card holder).