Current and Past Medicare Part B Premiums

Why They're on the Rise

Medicare Part B premiums are indexed for inflation—they're adjusted periodically to keep pace with the falling value of the dollar. What you pay this year may not be what you pay next year. Premiums are also means-tested, which means that they're somewhat dependent upon your income. The more income you have, the higher your premium will be. This means that generally, if you increase your earnings over certain limits, and the cost of living continues to increase, you'll keep seeing increases in Medicare Part B premiums.

Current and past Medicare Part B premiums are detailed below, to help you determine what your payments could be.

2020 Medicare Part B Premiums

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Medicare Part B premiums for 2020 increased by $9.10 from the premium for 2019. The 2020 premium rate starts at $144.60 per month and increases based on your income to up to $491.60 for the 2020 tax year. Your premium depends on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) from your tax return two years before the current year (in this case, 2018), and if you were not already enrolled in Social Security benefits in 2018.

Signing up for Medicare Parts A and B takes place at the same time as applying for Social Security.

The new premium is for those who didn't start Social Security in 2018 at $134 per month. The rate of $144.60 is for single or married individuals who file separately with MAGIs of $87,000 or less and for married taxpayers who file jointly with MAGIs of $174,000 or less.

Medicare has a "hold harmless" provision for seniors. This provision is in place to help in that it keeps Medicare from raising the premiums more than the cost of living increases. While this keeps seniors from paying more than they should, if your COLA is higher than the increase, you'll have to pay the increased premiums.

2017 to 2019 Medicare Part B Premiums

Medicare Part B premiums for tax year 2019 started at $135.50 and increased to up to $460.50, depending on your income. The rate of $135.50 was for single or married individuals who filed separately with MAGIs of $85,000 or less and for married taxpayers who filed jointly with MAGIs of $170,000 or less.

For tax years 2017 and 2018, the monthly premium for Medicare Part B was $134. This rate was for single or married individuals who filed separately with MAGIs of $85,000 or less and for married taxpayers who filed jointly with MAGIs of $170,000 or less. The 2017 premium rate was an increase of 10% over the 2016 rate that was not based on the Social Security Administration's cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).

2013 to 2016 Medicare Part B Premiums

Medicare Part B premiums went up in 2013 from the previous year, but then they stayed the same until the projected 2016 increase. The 2013 – 2015 premiums started at $104.90 per month and increased for single or married individuals who filed separately with MAGIs over $85,000 and married taxpayers who filed jointly with MAGIs over $170,000.

In 2016, the premium rate of $104.90 from the previous three years applied to about 70% of beneficiaries due to COLA. The other 30% paid a Medicare Part B premium that was not based on COLA. The premium was $121.80 in 2016, which was a 16% increase from the $104.90 paid in 2015.

2012 Medicare Part B Premiums

Medicare Part B premiums actually went down from their 2011 levels in 2012. They started at $99.90 per month, which was $15.50 less than the monthly premium for those who enrolled in 2011. Taxpayers with higher incomes paid more. 

2011 Medicare Part B Premiums

Medicare Part B premiums were $115.40 per month in 2011. Single taxpayers and married individuals who filed separately with MAGIs over $85,000 and married couples who filed jointly with MAGIs over $170,000 paid more. 

Historical Medicare Part B and D Premiums

The Social Security Administration has historical Medicare Part B and D premiums from 1966 through 2012 on its website. Medicare Part B premiums started at $3 per month in 1966 (about $24 in 2020). Medicare Part D premiums began in 2006 with an annual deductible of $250 per year.

When and How to Apply for Medicare

Make sure you enroll in Medicare just before you reach age 65, even if you're covered by another health plan. Medicare Part B premiums will be deducted from your monthly benefits if you're already collecting Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits. If you are not collecting Social Security or Railroad Retirement, you must sign up for Social Security in order to get Medicare Part B. You can then pay premiums through an automatic draft from your bank account, credit card, or by mail.

Article Sources

  1. Federal Register. "Medicare Program; Medicare Part B Monthly Actuarial Rates, Premium Rates, and Annual Deductible Beginning January 1, 2020." Accessed May 4, 2020.

  2. Medicare.gov. "Part B Costs." Accessed May 4, 2020.

  3. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. "2017 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles Announced." Accessed May 4, 2020.

  4. Social Security Administration. "Annual Statistical Supplement, 2011: Medicare: Table 2.C1." Accessed May 4, 2020.

  5. Medicare.gov. "How Do I Get Parts A & B?" Accessed May 4, 2020.