Medicare Part B

medicare part b
What is Medicare Part B? It is your outpatient medical coverage.

What is Medicare Part B? Many people think of it as medical coverage, but it actually covers things both in and out of the hospital. Think of Medicare Part B coverage as any care administered by physicians.

What Does Medicare Part B Cover?
Medicare Part B coverage provides you access to a variety of outpatient medical services. Part B covers preventive care including flu shots, colonoscopies, mammograms and more. It covers ordinary outpatient things like doctor’s visits, lab testing, home health care, ambulance rides, and some chiropractic care too.

However, Medicare Part B also covers more expensive services that sometimes occur in the hospital. This includes things like radiation or chemotherapy for cancer, surgeries, diagnostic imaging, medical equipment, and even dialysis for failing kidneys.

Part B is optional, but if Medicare is your primary coverage, you definitely need Part B. You also cannot get Medigap supplemental coverage without it.

How Much Will I pay for Medicare Part B?
You must pay a monthly premium for your Medicare Part B benefits. The majority of Americans will pay the standard monthly amount set by the government. In 2018, the base rate for Part B is $134/month for people new to Medicare. However, you may owe more if your income is above a certain level.

You can find a chart showing the costs based on your income bracket on our Medicare costs page. If you enroll late into Part B, you may also have to pay a penalty for life. It’s important not to miss your enrollment window whenever you retire and lose access to your employer group health insurance.

How Do I Sign Up for Medicare Part B?
People who are already taking Social Security income benefits at age 65 do not need to enroll. The Social Security office will automatically enroll you. Your card will arrive in the mail 1 – 2 m months before your 65th birthday.

Everyone else needs to apply for Medicare Part B themselves at age 65. Applying for Medicare Part B can be done online, over the phone or in person at your local Social Security office. After you apply, it will take 2 – 3 weeks before your card will arrive, so you should plan to apply several weeks prior to when you will need the coverage.

As you can see, it’s easy to sign up for Part B. For more information on each of these application options, visit our Apply for Medicare page.

What Doesn’t Medicare Part B Cover?
Part B does not cover hospital expenses covered by Part A. It also does not cover cosmetic procedures, routine dental, vision or hearing, or routine foot care. It also does not cover drugs that you pick up yourself at a retail pharmacy. For those you will need a Part D drug plan.

In general, Part B doesn’t cover things that are not reasonable and necessary. Your doctor usually will know the rules for what is covered and what isn’t.

What is my Cost sharing under Medicare Part B?
You will pay a percentage of the costs of your medically-necessary Part B services. Generally, these costs are:

the annual Medicare Part B deductible ($183)
20% of the remaining costs, with no limits or cap
any excess charges that a provider or facility may charge beyond what Medicare reimburses
What is most significant is the 20% that you will owe for outpatient medical care. For services like surgeries or chemotherapy, your expenses can add up to thousands of dollars. There is no reason for you to be subject to these expenses when there are supplemental coverage options available for any budget.

Get Help with Medicare Part B
There are two main ways in which you can protect yourself against catastrophic medical spending.

1) Medicare supplements are available for purchase to cover the parts that A & B don’t.

2)Medicare Advantage plans are an option if you are open to getting your A & B benefits through a private health insurance plan with a smaller network than Medicare.