Spouses can get Medicare if their partners work long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits, but each partner must apply for Medicare individually when they become eligible. Medicare Part A is generally free, but individual spouses pay a premium on Medicare Part B based on the couple's combined income.
If the working partner in a marriage has earned enough work credits to qualify for Social Security, the spouse can get premium-free Medicare Part A hospital coverage and Medicare Part B medical coverage with a premium payment at age 65, if the working partner is at least 62 years old. If the working partner is not yet 62, the spouse should enroll in Medicare Part B to avoid higher premiums for late enrollment and enroll in Part A when the partner turns 62. If the working partner turns 65 and enrolls in Medicare first, the spouse can also enroll in Medicare upon turning 65. Couples with one partner working who receive medical coverage through an employer group health plan can delay enrollment in Medicare without penalty until the working partner retires, and then enroll in Medicare during an open enrollment period.
Although a couple's income is assessed jointly when determining Medicare Part B premiums, spouses apply for and manage Medicare plans individually. Premiums, deductibles and copayments are all calculated separately, and if they both want optional Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, they must each apply for these plans individually as well.