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Part B Explained

Medical Insurance and how it works.

What Is Medicare Part B?

Original Medicare consists of two parts: Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance). Medicare Part A covers Medicare inpatient care, including care received while in a hospital, a skilled nursing facility, and, in limited circumstances, at home.

Most people are automatically eligible for Medicare Part A at age 65 if they’re already collecting retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board. You may qualify for Medicare Part A before 65 if you have a disability, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). You must be either a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident of at least five continuous years.

What does Medicare Part B Cover?

Medicare Part B helps pay for many common types of health care:

  • Doctors’ services.
  • Durable medical equipment (DME) if your doctor certifies you need it and you buy or rent it from a Medicare-certifiedMedicare-certified means offering services at a level of quality approved by Medicare. Medicare will not pay for services received from a health care provider that is not Medicare-certified. supplierA supplier is a person or business from whom you can buy medical equipment, like a walker or wheelchair. See also Provider and Durable Medical Equipment (DME)..
  • Ambulance services if your health requires ambulance transport and you are traveling to or from certain locations.
  • Many preventive care services.
  • Outpatient physical, speech, and occupational therapy services provided by a Medicare-certified physical, speech, or occupational therapist.
  • Chiropractic care when manipulation of the spine is medically necessary to fix a subluxation of the spine. A subluxation is when one or more of the bones of the spine move out of position.
  • Outpatient mental health services.
  • Home health services if you need skilled nursing or therapy services.
  • X-rays and lab tests.
  • Select prescriptionA prescription is an order for a health care service or drug written by a qualified health care professional. drugs, such as immunosuppressant drugs, some anti-cancer drugs, some anti-emetic drugs, some dialysis drugs, and physician-administered drugs that persons do not usually administer themselves.

It is important to note that Medicare does not cover all health care services.

Medicare Part B Eligibility

In general, you are eligible for Medicare Part B if:

  • You are age 65 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident of at least five years in a row
  • You are already receiving retirement benefits
  • You are disabled and receiving disability benefits
  • You have end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
  • You have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS)

Most beneficiaries pay a premium for Medicare Part B if they have worked at least 10 years (or 40 quarters) and paid Medicare taxes during that time. Beneficiaries who delay enrollment after they first become eligible for Medicare Part B may be subject to a late enrollment penalty once they sign up.

Tip

The transition from Employer Group Health Insurance may take some time to prepare. Speak with a licensed agent to find out your options and the expected time to receive Part B.

Medicare Part B Premium

One reason someone may hold off on not taking Part B initially is because of the monthly cost associated in accepting coverage. If someone is enrolled in employer group health coverage, it may not make sense to also pay a monthly premium to take Part B.

The premium is determined by what income you or your household receives. The more taxable income you receive, the more you will pay.

If you believe that you’re paying too much for Part B, check out this article to learn how to appeal your Part B premium.

Watch an Explanation of Medicare Part B
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my doctor accept Part B?

To find a doctor that accepts Medicare payments, you may want to visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Physician Compare. You can search by entering a health care professional’s last name or group practice name, a medical specialty, a medical condition, a body part, or an organ system. This tool will provide you with a list of professionals or group practices in the specialty and geographic area you specify, along with detailed profiles, maps and driving directions.

What is the Medicare Part B late-enrollment penalty?
If a person does not enroll in Medicare Part B when first eligible, and they do not have other credible health coverageGenerally referred as health insurance just as good or better than Medicare., they will incur a late-enrollment penalty if they later choose to enroll in Medicare Part B.

This is also true if someone has Medicare Part B, but then drops their Part B coverage, and then later decides to sign up again for coverage.

Remember that, if a person does not enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B when they were first eligible, and they were not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, they can only elect Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B during the General Enrollment Period that starts January 1st and continues through March 31 of each year.

The Medicare Part B late-enrollment penalty is 10% of the current Medicare Part B premium (for instance, the 2019 Medicare Part B premium is $134) for every 12-month period that the person delayed enrolling in Medicare Part B after they were first eligible or dropped Part B and were without Medicare Part B coverage when they were eligible.

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