Medicare wages are employee earnings subject to the Medicare levy in the United States. This tax is similar to Social Security, which is a US payroll tax. It pays for the government’s Medicare program, which helps pay for health and hospital insurance for people who are 65 or older and have disabilities.

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) imposes Medicare and Social Security taxes on both employees and businesses.


  • 1.45 percent payroll tax support medicare on the first $200,000 of an employee’s earnings. Employees earning more than $200,000 are liable to an additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax.
  • Employers pay 1.45% as well.
  • The Medicare tax is 2.9 percent for self-employed individuals, which covers both the employee and employer amounts.
  • The 2020 CARES Act increased Medicare’s ability to cover COVID-19-related treatment and services.
  • Employees may wish to have money withdrawn from their paychecks to fund an employer-sponsored retirement plan or an individual retirement account (IRA).

Understanding the Costs of Medicare.

None of the wages under Medicare are capped. When an employee makes money, they pay a percentage of that money to the government as a medicare tax. The Medicare tax on an individual’s wages will be 1.45 percent in 2020 and 2021. Employers are also responsible for 1.45% of the tax.

Only employees who file an individual tax return are subject to the additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on wages exceeding $200,000. Those whose wages surpass $250,000 if they file a joint return and $125,000 if they file a separate return are also subject to the additional tax.

For 2021, the Social Security tax rate was 6.2 percent for employees, and 6.2 percent for employers, for a combined rate of 12.4 percent—the same as in 2020. In 2021, the tax was applied to the first $142,800 of income, rising to $147,000 in 2022. All sorts of income earned by an employee, including salaries, wages, and bonuses, are subject to the Social Security tax rate. 

The Self-Employed Medicare Tax.

Self-employed people must additionally pay Social Security and Medicare taxes under the Self-Employed Contributions Act (SECA). The Medicare tax on self-employed individuals’ income will be 2.9 percent in 2021 and 2022, while the Social Security tax rate will be 12.4 percent. Self-employed workers will pay a maximum Social Security tax of $17,707.20 in 2021 and $18,228 in 2022.

Because employers normally pay half of these taxes, self-employed persons must pay twice as much in Medicare and Social Security taxes as regular employees. They can, however, deduct half of their Medicare and Social Security contributions from their taxable income.

The 2020 CARES Act.

Former President Trump signed the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, a $2 trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus program, into law on March 27th, 2020. It strengthens Medicare’s ability to cover treatment and services linked to COVID-19. Additionally, the CARES Act contains the following provisions:

  • Allows Medicare to be more flexible in its coverage of telehealth services.
  • Allows physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse specialists to certify home health care services for Medicare reimbursement.
  • Increases Medicare payments for hospital stays and durable medical equipment associated with COVID-19.

The CARES Act reaffirms that non-expansion states may use Medicaid to offer COVID-19-related treatments to uninsured individuals who would have qualified had the state expanded. Additionally, other populations with limited Medicaid coverage are eligible for care through this state option.

Particular Points to Consider.

An employee should explore strategies for saving for retirement and documenting specific withdrawals for Medicare and Social Security from each paycheck. In many circumstances, you can have a portion of your paycheck withdrawn for this purpose. Depending on the amount of time a person has worked for an organization (known as vesting) and the sort of organization, many businesses provide different types of retirement plans (company, non-profit, or government agency).

For example, many companies offer 401(k) plans. A qualifying employer-sponsored retirement plan into which eligible employees can make salary deferral payments is known as a 401(k). A 401(k) plan enables you to save money while delaying taxes. A 403(b) retirement plan is similar to a 401(k), but it is tailored to employees of public schools, non-profit organizations, and certain clergy. A 457 plan is a form of pension or retirement plan for state and local government employees.

Mutual funds are the most prevalent investments 401(k) programs offer. Employees can invest in a tax-sheltered annuity plan or a designated Roth account through a 403(b).

If your employer does not offer a retirement plan, you can use an IRA to save for retirement or one to save money for retirement in addition to the money saved in an employer-sponsored plan. Like 401(k)s, traditional IRAs offer tax-deferred contributions to retirement savers.

How much of my take-home income does Medicare tax?

The Medicare payroll tax is 1.45% on the first $200,000 of an employee’s earnings. If you earn more than $200,000, you’ll have to pay an additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax. You’re not the only one who has to pay Medicare tax. Employers are also responsible for 1.45% of the tax. If you are self-employed, your Medicare tax rate will be 2.9 percent to cover both the employee and employer components.

Why should I pay the Medicare tax?

Paying the Medicare fee now allows you to get cheaper coverage later. For example, Americans who pay their taxes correctly throughout their careers are frequently eligible for free Medicare Part A premiums.

Learn more about Medicare on our website