(775) 786-6141
Who Pays First?


Are you 65 or older, have Medicare, and other insurance coverage such as a group health plan from an employer? Who is the “primary payer” responsible for paying your medical bills first?

When there’s more than one payer, “coordination of benefits” rules decide who pays first. The “primary payer” pays what it owes on your bills first, and then your provider send the rest to the “secondary payer” to pay. There may be a “third payer” in some cases.

Who the “primary payer” is depends on a number of things including the number of employees in the company that is providing the group health care coverage. Generally, your group health plan pay first if you’re 65 or older, covered by a group health plan through a current employer and the employer has 20 or more employees. Your health care provider should bill Medicare if the group health plan did not pay all of your bill. Medicare generally will pay first if your employer has less than 20 employees.

Medicare becomes your “primary payer” after you retire at 65 or older.

There are various situations and type(s) of coverage that determines who the “primary payer” will be. Situations and coverage include disability, COBRA coverage, medical expenses from an accident, workers’ compensation coverage or Veterans’ coverage.

Medicare has a 32 page booklet entitled “Medicare and Other Health Benefits: Your Guide to who Pays First” that’s available at or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to get the most current information. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.



Barnard Vogler & Co.
100 W. Liberty St., Suite 1100
Reno, NV 89501

T: (775) 786-6141
F: (775) 323-6211


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