Can You Get Medicare If You Never Worked?

You can still get Medicare if you never worked, but it will likely be more expensive. Unless you worked and paid Medicare taxes for 10 years — also measured as 40 quarters — you will have to pay a monthly premium for Part A. This may differ depending on your spouse's or your work history. You will also pay a premium for Part B regardless of your time spent in the workforce.

Christian Simmons, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Christian Simmons

    Christian Simmons

    Financial Writer

    Christian Simmons is a writer for RetireGuide and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®). He covers Medicare and important retirement topics. Christian is a former winner of a Florida Society of News Editors journalism contest and has written professionally since 2016.

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  • Edited By
    Lee Williams
    Lee Williams, senior editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lee Williams

    Senior Financial Editor

    Lee Williams is a professional writer, editor and content strategist with 10 years of professional experience working for global and nationally recognized brands. He has contributed to Forbes, The Huffington Post, SUCCESS Magazine, AskMen.com, Electric Literature and The Wall Street Journal. His career also includes ghostwriting for Fortune 500 CEOs and published authors.

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  • Published: September 9, 2021
  • Updated: November 15, 2022
  • 4 min read time
  • This page features 9 Cited Research Articles
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APA Simmons, C. (2022, November 15). Can You Get Medicare If You Never Worked? RetireGuide.com. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/eligibility-and-enrollment/never-worked/

MLA Simmons, Christian. "Can You Get Medicare If You Never Worked?" RetireGuide.com, 15 Nov 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/eligibility-and-enrollment/never-worked/.

Chicago Simmons, Christian. "Can You Get Medicare If You Never Worked?" RetireGuide.com. Last modified November 15, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/eligibility-and-enrollment/never-worked/.

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Medicare Coverage for People Who Never Worked

Your Medicare Part A coverage is essentially paid for while in the workforce since you pay taxes for Medicare while employed. If you never worked, you likely will not be eligible for premium-free Part A, which covers inpatient care and hospital stays.

You can still get Part A without any work history; to do so, you’ll have to pay a monthly premium like any other form of insurance. That premium could be reduced if you spent some time in the workforce.

For example, if you were employed for years but put your career on pause to be a stay-at-home parent or for any other reason, you could be eligible for a reduced premium.

If you never worked, then your Part A premium for 2023 will be $506 . But if you spent at least 30 to 39 quarters in the workforce and paid Medicare taxes, your premium could be reduced to $278.

Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient care, comes with a monthly premium that is not affected by your work history.

Learn More About Medicare Eligibility

Premium-Free Medicare Coverage Scenarios

Even if you never worked or didn’t work long enough, there are still some circumstances that could qualify you for premium-free Medicare coverage. These circumstances include your spouse’s work status and if you have a disability or a certain condition.

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Spousal Eligibility

If you never worked but your spouse did, you should have premium-free Part A eligibility through them. Your spouse’s work history applies to you as well.

But remember that you are not added to their plan because Medicare is individual insurance. You will be eligible not to pay premiums on your own plan.

If your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes but not for a full 40 quarters, then you will not be eligible for premium-free Medicare through them.

Disability Eligibility

Regardless of your work history, you can be eligible for premium-free Medicare if you have received Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability insurance for at least two years.

You’ll also be eligible if you have Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, or end-stage renal disease. You can get Medicare before you turn 65 under any of these circumstances.

Annual Enrollment Ends December 7th
Have you selected your 2023 Medicare plan? The Medicare Annual Enrollment period ends tomorrow. Visit GoHealth today to see what savings you may qualify for with a new plan.

Paying for Medicare

Regardless of your work history, different parts of Medicare come with respective price tags. Since your decision on whether or not you worked will impact your premiums, your Part A costs will be affected.

Medicare Costs If You've Never Worked
Part A premium:
$506 a month if you don't qualify for premium-free coverage — which could drop to $278 if you spent some time in the workforce.
Part B premium:
$164.90 — which is unaffected by your work status but could increase depending on your income level.
Medicare Advantage:
Varied costs since these plans are provided through private insurers.
Part D premium:
Cost varies by plan, but it will be more expensive if you have a higher income.
Medigap:
Costs vary by plan and insurer.
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Do You Need Extra Help Paying Medicare Premiums?

If you never worked and are not eligible for premium-free Medicare, health care can become a considerable expense for you in retirement. There are some options available if you need help paying your Medicare premiums.

You may want to look into Medicaid, an assistance program designed to help cover your health care if you can’t afford other forms of insurance. You typically can only qualify for Medicaid if you have a very low level of income.

Another option could be to take advantage of a Medicare Savings Program, where your state can help you pay some of your Medicare costs like your deductible or coinsurance. According to the Medicare website, there are four different programs with their own qualifications, but you typically need to show that you have low income or lack of resources.

You also could qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to help lighten your financial burden. SSI benefits are available if you have limited income and are 65 and older, blind or have a disability.

An option that could help specifically with drug prices is Extra Help. This program can pay your prescription drug costs, and you should be eligible for it if you qualify for Medicaid, a Medicare Savings Program or SSI benefits.

Last Modified: November 15, 2022

9 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). Costs. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/basics/costs/medicare-costs
  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022, September 27). 2023 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles 2023 Medicare Part D Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2023-medicare-parts-b-premiums-and-deductibles-2023-medicare-part-d-income-related-monthly
  3. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2022, June). 4 Programs that Can Help You Pay Your Medical Expenses. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/publications/11445-4-Programs-Help-Pay-Medical-Expenses.pdf
  4. Mayo Clinic. (2022, February 22). Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354022
  5. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (2022). Costs. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/basics/costs/medicare-costs
  6. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). Costs of Medigap policies. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/whats-medicare-supplement-insurance-medigap/medigap-costs/costs-of-medigap-policies
  7. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). Get help paying costs. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/get-help-paying-costs
  8. AARP. (n.d.). Medicare Coverage for Non-Working Spouses. Retrieved from https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com/medicare-articles/medicare-coverage-for-non-working-spouses.html
  9. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (n.d.). Who is eligible for Medicare? Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/answers/medicare-and-medicaid/who-is-elibible-for-medicare/index.html