How Your Marital Status Affects Your Medicare Coverage

If your marital status has changed recently, or you believe it might change, you may have questions. Learn how different marital statuses impact Medicare coverage.

When couples marry, they often think about where they want to live and how they want to run their household. They’ll also think about how they want to provide for one another over the years. One thing that can get lost in the conversation? Medicare benefits. This is especially true when people marry or remarry later in life.

If your marital status has changed recently, or you believe it might change in the future, you probably have questions. Will getting married affect my current Medicare benefits? Could I lose my Medicare eligibility if I get married?

To clear up these concerns, here’s a rundown of how different marital statuses impact Medicare coverage.

Medicare for Married Couples

Since Medicare is an individual health plan, you and your spouse can have different eligibility statuses and will need to enroll separately. Depending on your ages, you may also need to enroll at different times. However, there are some ways your coverage may be interconnected.

Medicare Spousal Benefits

An ineligible spouse can become eligible for Medicare coverage based on the other spouse’s work history. If your spouse meets the Medicare eligibility criteria through their work history, you may also be eligible for Medicare Part A hospital coverage as long as:

  • You are at least 65 years old
  • You are currently married
  • You have been married for at least one year before your application

Some exceptions apply, but a non-working spouse can generally qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A if they meet the spouse Medicare eligibility criteria listed above. Eligible spouses can get Medicare spousal benefits like:

  • Inpatient hospital care
  • Hospice care
  • Skilled nursing facility care
  • Inpatient rehabilitation care
  • Inpatient mental health care
  • Home health care

These are just some of the services covered by Medicare Part A that you may be eligible for as the spouse of an enrollee. 

Effect of Marriage on Medicare Costs

Keep in mind that getting married can affect your Medicare premiums if it changes your total household income. Though Medicare Part A hospital coverage has no monthly premium for people eligible for Social Security, the premium you pay for other Medicare parts is based on the income you earn together with your spouse. If your marriage increases your total income, your Medicare premiums may increase, too. 

Medicare Divorced Spouse Eligibility

Divorced individuals who were married for at least ten years to a Medicare-eligible spouse also qualify for Medicare coverage. 

To apply for Medicare benefits through your ex-spouse’s work history, you need to be single. If you remarry later, that may end your Medicare coverage. 

Medicare After the Death of a Spouse

Medicare coverage can extend to the spouse of a deceased enrollee as well. If you are a widow or widower of someone who was eligible for Social Security and contributed 40 quarters in Medicare-taxed employment, you may be eligible for Medicare spouse coverage. To qualify, you must have been married for at least nine months before your spouse’s death, and you must be legally single.

Once again, remarrying may change your Medicare coverage. 

Effect of Remarriage on Your Medicare Costs

Anyone considering getting remarried should be aware of the potential effects on your Medicare costs and benefits. 

After a divorce, there are three possible scenarios if you remarry:

  • Your ex-spouse passes away: In this case, you will only be eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A through your ex-spouse if you remarry after age 60. 
  • Your ex-spouse is alive: Your marriage to your ex-spouse will no longer grant you eligibility for free Medicare Part A.
  • Subsequent divorce: After a subsequent divorce, your Part A premium costs can be based on the record of any of your ex-spouses if you stay single. 

Remarrying after the death of your first spouse will typically end your eligibility for premium-free Part A coverage through that spouse. 

Find the Right Plan for Your Needs

No matter what your marital status is, we’re here to help you find the best Medicare plan for your long-term needs and goals. We’ll help you make sense of your eligibility and plan options. For help navigating Medicare enrollment, connect with a local licensed Medicare advisor online or by calling (888) 443-5336 (TTY: 711).  

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