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Is there a recommended way to pay monthly Medicare Part D premiums?

Category: Paying Your Premiums
Updated: Sep, 05 2022

Not really.  Depending on your chosen Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan, your monthly premium payment options may include:
  • Social Security check deduction,
  • Bank Draft (Electronic Funds Transfer or EFT),
  • Credit Card payment,
  • Direct Billing, or
  • Coupon Book paid with a personal check.
Each payment option has some positive (and not-so-positive characteristics).

The popular automatic Social Security check payment

Social Security check deductions are perhaps the most popular form of premium payment - especially back when the Part D program first started.  Even now, automatic SS check deductions seem the simplest premium payment solution.

But when will the premium deductions begin from my Social Security check?

Many people find that Social Security check deductions do not begin for several months after the start of a new Medicare plan year or when changing plan enrollment.  And it is possible that all of the unpaid premium were taken at one time - leaving some people without enough money in their Social Security check for the entire month.

We even heard from some people who had not seen a Social Security check deduction for up to ten months - with all ten premiums being paid in one month and accounting for a huge portion of the person's Social Security check.

As noted, when people changed plans, they sometimes found that it took Social Security a number of months into the new plan year to adjust to the new plan premium--causing the old Medicare plan premiums to be credited back and new Medicare plans premiums to be paid out - all at one time.

Getting a direct bill from your Medicare plan while waiting for your Social Security payments to begin

In past year, some people who chose to pay premiums with automatic Social Security deductions found that their Medicare plans sent them a direct bill for the first few months of the new plan year - and then began Social Security deductions - or required the plan member to then choose the Social Security payment options when the plan started.

Your plan will have a "default" payment method

As noted, if you did not choose a method to pay your monthly premiums, your plan may have assumed that you wish to have Social Security check deductions.  But some Medicare Part D plans now have chosen another "default" method of paying besides Social Security check deductions.  For instance, if you do not choose a payment method, some plans will automatically send you a monthly bill or assume that you wish to receive a coupon book for making payments.

Premium Coupon Books: the good and the bad

Many people choose the coupon payment book option when paying their monthly premiums because they have a monthly reminder that premiums need to be paid - and some people use a coupon book payment to pay all 12 monthly premiums at one time to ensure that the payments are made for the year.

On the other hand, the trouble with coupon books is that some people simply forget to make their monthly payments (or lose their coupon books or have personal issues that arise that distract them from sending in the coupon and payment) and find themselves involuntarily disenrolled from their Part D plan a few months into their annual coverage period.

Credit Card or Electronic Bank Payment

Some Medicare beneficiaries recommend paying monthly Medicare Part D premiums with a Credit Card or Bank Draft (EFT) to best control their personal budget - and they can then retain control should they wish to stop payments for some reason.

However, other people are not comfortable with a Medicare Part D plan charging their credit cards or taking money directly from their checking or savings account, especially when they need to watch their balances closely to ensure that they have enough money in their accounts to cover other monthly payments.

Changing your mind about premium payment methods

The good news is that you can always contact your Medicare plan's Member Services department and ask to change to another payment option.  Please remember that changing payment options may not be automatic and the process may take several weeks or longer until your newly chosen payment option is confirmed.

You can contact your Medicare plan for more information (the toll-free telephone number is on your Member ID card and most of your plan's printed information and your plan's website).

If you cannot find your Member ID card with the number for Member Services, we also have most Medicare plan Member Services numbers online if you click on the plan name using our Medicare Advantage Plan Finder or Medicare Part D Plan Finder.

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