Many people shopping for Medicare wonder if they can bundle insurance with their partner, since that is a feature with so many private insurance plans. Here are some of the most common questions associated with sharing Medicare benefits with a spouse.

Can Medicare expenses be bundled together with a spouse?

Generally, no, Medicare expenses cannot be bundled together with a spouse. Premiums are always paid as separate individual plans for each person. However, in some cases a spouse can help you qualify for the premium-free Part A portion of Medicare.

Can I get premium-free Part A if my partner turns 65 before me?

If you are at least 62, meet the 40 quarters requirement—you have worked for 40 business quarters throughout your life—and have paid your Medicare taxes, you can qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A.

If you are 62 and have not met the 40 quarters requirement, you will likely have to wait until you’re 65 to receive your spouse’s benefits.

If you are younger than 62 at the time your spouse qualifies for Original Medicare, you will most likely have to pay the Medicare Part A monthly premium until you turn 65. However, if you meet the 40 quarters requirement, you may be able to avoid Medicare Part A premiums when you turn 62.

Can my spouse get premium-free part A if they never worked?

If you are married to someone who didn’t pay into the Medicare taxes through work, they are often still qualified for Medicare Part A at age 65 based on your work history. This means you must meet the 40 quarter requirement—having worked 40 business quarters paying into Medicare—and they must be legally married to you.

How do I know if I qualify for premium-free Part A based on my partner’s work history?

You will qualify for Medicare Part A based on your partner’s work history in one of three conditions. First, if you have been married to a spouse who qualifies for Social Security benefits for one year before applying to these benefits. 

Second, if you are divorced but were married for ten years to someone who qualifies for Social Security benefits. You must be single to qualify for benefits in this case. 

Third, you are widowed but were married for 9 months before your spouse passed away. You must be single to qualify for benefits in this case.

What if I’m covered for premium-free Part A by my spouse beyond age 65?

If you’re covered by your spouse’s employer-based health insurance, you can delay your Medicare Part B insurance beyond age 65 and you will qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). This SEP will ensure that you qualify for the same standardized rates as everyone else who initially enrolls in Medicare Part B at age 65, no matter what your health status is.

Does Medicare recognize domestic partners?

No, Medicare does not offer domestic partners the same benefits as married people except in some cases of a group plan. This means if a domestic partner is covered under their partner’s insurance leading up to age 65, it is usually best to switch to enrolling in Medicare Part B at the Initial Enrollment Period. If this doesn’t happen, the partner won’t be eligible for the Special Enrollment Period and will have to pay late fees on the Part B premium each month.

Are Medicare Part B premiums per person or per couple?

Medicare Part B premiums are per person. If you switch to a Medicare Advantage plan, you will likely have to work with a different cost structure for your plan, which still might be offering separate premiums for each partner.