Medicare Part B, when combined with Part A, is considered ‘Original Medicare.’ Medicare Part B targets its coverage to help you with services and supplies that are deemed medically necessary by your physician to treat whatever ailments or conditions you may be suffering from but are not covered under Part A. Medicare Part B plans cover or help to cover various services considered preventative care intended to head off serious maladies or detect them in early stages of development so they can be treated before leading to serious or even catastrophic health circumstances. Included in the items covered in Medicare Part B are things such as outpatient services that you might receive in your doctor’s office, at a clinic or some other facility that is not categorized as a hospital.
What does Medicare Part B cover?
Medicare Part B plans provide coverage for two types of services; medically necessary services and preventative measures. Preventative services under Medicare Part B include visits to your doctor’s office or other outpatient services that function to maintain your health such as flu shots, pap smears or a cancer screening. Medically necessary services can include inpatient and outpatient mental health care as well as rehabilitation services like physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech pathology services. Medicare Part B can also cover clinical research and some outpatient prescription medication.
Medicare Part B may also cover any lab work that may be required to go along with a blood test and any types of imaging services like an X-ray, MRI or CT scan. Part B for Medicare also covers durable medical goods such as wheelchairs or walkers that help with your illness or condition. Your Medicare Part B plan may also cover emergency ambulance services. If you are unsure whether Medicare Part B plans cover what you need, then you may ask your doctor or health care provider to find out which treatments and medical services are covered by Medicare.
Download our guide for more information about health care services that are covered under Medicare Part B.
What does Medicare Part B cost?
Plans for Medicare Part B require that you pay both a monthly premium as well as an annual deductible. Your monthly Medicare Part B premium can fluctuate in price depending upon a variety of circumstances particular to your situation. Some of these factors include whether or not you are a first-time enrollee and if you are already receiving Social Security benefits or retirement funds from the Railroad Retirement Board. Being direct billed for your Medicare Part B premiums or having your premium payments deducted from your Social Security Administration payments may also affect your monthly premium amount. Receiving both Medicare Part B as well as Medicaid may also influence the amount of your monthly premiums. Your income level also affects your premium amount as does enrolling in Medicare Part B after you first become eligible. In this case, you are assessed a late enrollment fee, which could take the form of a higher monthly premium. If you qualify for a Medicare Part B special enrollment period, then you may be exempt from a late enrollment assessment.
Learn more about Medicare Part B costs in our free guide.
How to Enroll in Medicare Part B Plans
You may enroll in Medicare Part B initially during a seven-month period when you meet the minimum age requirement. It is important to know when you first become eligible to enroll in Medicare Part B, as late enrollment can cause a delay in coverage and a higher rate due to penalties. This seven-month initial enrollment period begins three months before your birthday, includes the month in which you become of age and ends three months following this birthday.
Medicare Part B plans also have a general enrollment period that extends from January 1st until March 31st of each year. You may use the general enrollment period to enroll in Medicare Part B if you did not do so when you first became eligible or you do not qualify for a special enrollment period. There is also the special enrollment period available to you should you need and qualify for it. The special enrollment period allows you to enroll in Medicare Part B after your initial enrollment period ends. You may qualify for a special enrollment period if you or your spouse is employed and you are covered by a group health care plan supplied by your employer or a labor union connected to that employment. A special enrollment period for a Medicare Part B plan may also take place during an eight-month period that starts the month after an employment ends or the month after the group health insurance plan for a current employment ends. Typically, there is no late enrollment fee assessed when you enroll in Medicare Part B plans during a special enrollment period.