When you first enroll in Medicare and at certain times of the year, you can choose from one of two main ways to get your Medicare coverage – through Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) or through a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C).
The second part of Original Medicare, Part B, is often referred to as “Medical Insurance.” Part B helps to cover costs related to medically necessary and preventative services from doctors and other healthcare providers, such as regular checkups and screenings, outpatient care and durable medical equipment (more about what Medicare Part B covers below).
Part B does have a regular monthly premium that must be paid, as well as a small standard deductible (more details on the costs for Medicare Part B below).
Overall, Medicare Part B is a crucial part of Medicare, because it covers regular, preventative care from doctors and other specialists for seniors.
What Does Part B Cover?
Medicare Part B helps to cover doctor visits, lab tests, diagnostic screenings, durable medical equipment, ambulance transportation and other medically necessary services.
Part B also helps to cover costs related to outpatient surgeries, some rehabilitation and therapy, some home health care services and diabetic supplies. You can get limited coverage for some medications and most vaccines as well.
In comparison, there are some things that are not covered by Medicare Part B. Part B does not help to cover long-term care, most dental care, eye exams or routine foot care.
You can choose to purchase Medicare Supplement plans to help provide additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare, or look in to getting a more comprehensive Medicare Advantage plan that might include more coverage than Original Medicare.
How Much Does Part B Cost?
Medicare Part B has a standard monthly premium and deductible that must be met before Original Medicare will start to pay.
The standard Part B monthly premium for 2021 is $148.50 (or higher depending on your gross annual income). The amount can change each year, and you will pay the premium each month regardless of whether or not you received any Part-B related services.
There is also a small Part B deductible that must be paid each year before Original Medicare (Part B) starts to pay. This deductible for 2021 is $203.
If you fail to sign up for Medicare Part B when you are first eligible, you might be charged a financial penalty. The Part B late enrollment penalty is typically an extra 10% for each year that you could have signed up for Part B but did not.
When Do I Enroll in Part B?
Most people get Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) when they first turn 65. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits or benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), you will automatically get Part B the month you turn 65.
Because you must pay a premium for Part B though, you can choose to turn it down, especially If you are still working and have comprehensive health insurance coverage from your employer or spouse.
Even if you do have credible coverage through your spouse or your employer, you can still choose to enroll in Medicare Part B. It helps to complete the coverage from Original Medicare and can help reduce your healthcare costs by providing additional coverage on top of your group health plan.
If you have questions about Medicare Part B, you can talk to a local senior health plan consultant. They tend to be experts in their field, and can help you navigate your options when it comes to your Medicare health insurance enrollment. Contact us today to get help finding an advocate in your area. You can also reach out to your local Social Security office.