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Medicare Part B


Original Medicare coverage consists of two parts. While Medicare Part A is inpatient hospital coverage, Medicare Part B covers outpatient coverage for various medical services and doctor appointments. This coverage is available for preventive and medically necessary care.

What Medicare Part B Covers

Medicare Part B offers comprehensive coverage for outpatient services, durable medical equipment, and doctor visits. The two main types of coverage this part of Medicare includes are medically necessary and preventive.

Medicare Part B Coverage

The medically necessary coverage encompasses a variety of tests, procedures, and care options. A medical service or supply must be a requirement for treating or diagnosing a medical condition for Medicare to consider them medically necessary. Each situation is different, so a medical supply or service that is medically necessary for one person may not be for another.

It is easy to keep up with your general health needs through Medicare’s outpatient insurance by utilizing annual wellness visits. Medicare Part B covers the following preventive care services:

  • Vaccines
  • Annual cancer screenings
  • Lab work
  • Mental health counseling

You can receive many preventive services and more at your annual wellness visit.

Alongside preventive care services, Medicare Part B covers certain outpatient services you receive in the hospital. These include:

  • Surgeries
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Chemotherapy
  • Dialysis

If you are administered drugs while at the hospital, Medicare Part B will also provide coverage.

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What Does Medicare Part B Not Cover?

Like Medicare Part A, Part B does not provide dental, vision, hearing, or prescription drug coverage benefits. Further, it does not cover anything not considered medically necessary or preventive, nor any medical services provided by non-Medicare-participating providers. Finally, inpatient services only receive coverage under Part A of Medicare.

Medicare Part B Costs

When you enroll in this part of Medicare, you are responsible for its premium. In 2022, the standard Medicare Part B premium is $170.10 each month. However, those in a higher income bracket will pay a higher monthly premium.

For most beneficiaries, the premium is automatically deducted from their monthly Social Security benefits check. If you do not receive Social Security benefits, you will get a quarterly bill from Medicare.

Medicare offers an online payment option called Easy Pay, which you can access with a MyMedicare account. Additionally, you may pay your quarterly premium by mail instead.

Alongside the premium, this coverage includes an annual deductible and 20% coinsurance, for which you are responsible for paying out-of-pocket. In 2022, the Medicare Part B deductible is $233.

Once you meet the annual deductible, Medicare will cover 80% of your Medicare Part B expenses. Medicare Supplement plans can close this coverage gap, reduce other out-of-pocket costs, and is accepted anywhere Original Medicare is accepted.

Medicare Part B Coverage Chart

Reducing Your Medicare Part B Premium

If you are a lower-income beneficiary and are dual-eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, you may qualify for a Medicare Savings Program. These programs pay all or most of your Medicare Part B premium. Also, some Medicare Advantage plans will reduce the cost of the monthly premium through a give-back benefit

How Do I Apply for Medicare Part B?

Beneficiaries collecting Social Security benefits when they age into Medicare at 65 will automatically enroll. If this is the case for you, you will receive your Medicare card one to three months before your 65th birthday. If you are not collecting Social Security benefits, you will need to enroll yourself. You can apply online, over the phone, or in person.

All beneficiaries will have an Initial Enrollment Period for Original Medicare. Your Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before your 65th birth month and ends three months after you turn 65. If you do not enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period and do not have creditable coverage, you could be subject to a penalty when you decide to enroll in the future.

FAQs

How long does it take to get Medicare Part B after applying?
Approval can take up to 30-60 days if you apply outside your Initial Enrollment Period and do not automatically enroll in Medicare.
Am I required to pay the Medicare Part B deductible upfront?
No, your doctor will need to bill Medicare first. Then, Medicare will bill you for the deductible.
Do you pay the Medicare Part B premium with Medicare Advantage?
Yes, you still must pay any applicable Original Medicare premiums when you have a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Do I have to pay for Medicare Part B if I have other insurance?
Depending on your insurance, you may be able to delay without penalty.
Does Medicare Part B cover glasses?
No, Medicare Part B will not cover the cost of glasses. Some Medicare Advantage plans may provide some benefits for glasses.
Can I add Medicare Part B at any time?
There are two enrollment windows when you can enroll unless you have a special circumstance. The first opportunity is during your Initial Enrollment Period and the second opportunity is during the annual General Enrollment Period.
Is Medicare Part B eligibility based on income?
No, eligibility for Original Medicare is not based on income. It depends on your age or disability status.
What is the difference between Medicare Part A and Part B?
Medicare Part A is hospital inpatient coverage, while Medicare Part B covers outpatient doctor services.

How to Get Help with Medicare Part B

We understand the different Medicare parts and plan letters can become confusing. However, the Medicare alphabet does not need to add unnecessary stress to your retirement. At MedicareFAQ, our Medicare experts are passionate about fully educating seniors on all things Medicare.
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Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.

42 thoughts on “Medicare Part B

  1. I have not taken part B because I have an employer plan covering both my wife and myself. I am retiring and will have to sign up for part B as I have been collecting SSI for two years. My wife has not started SSI because we want to wait for her to turn age 70. Do I have to enroll her in part B at the same time as I am due to the company policy being void?

    1. To avoid a late enrollment penalty for your wife, you would need to enroll her in Part B once you lose group coverage.

  2. My husband is covered under my insurance until I retire on September 1st. He will be 65 on May 25th and is currently collecting SS. I understand they will start deducting his monthly premium automatically. Is there an easy way to delay coverage for him so he does not have to pay the monthly premium until September 1st? I am afraid if I try to do this things might get messed up and he wont be covered.

    Thanks!
    Kim

    1. Kimberlyn, as long as your husband is covered by creditable health insurance, he will have no problem delaying Medicare Part B. Contact your local social security office to delay his Medicare coverage.

  3. If my husband chose to take Medicare Part B since he is eligible and he is also covered under my work health plan, Will Medicare Part B pay what is not paid from my primary insurance company as in the 20 percent or would part B deny because my primary already paid 80 percent? .

    1. Sherry, it is important to speak with your group plan administrator to ensure the plan will coordinate benefits with Medicare. Typically, once the group plan pays its part, you will be required to meet the Medicare Part B deductible. Once you meet the Medicare Part B deductible, Medicare will cover 80% of the remaining balance.

  4. If I sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan, do I still have to pay the $170 a month for Medicare? I am so confused…..

    1. Misty, yes! If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you are still responsible for paying the Part B premium each month.

  5. Hello!! My name is Dan Wolfe and I just sign up for Medicare A-B. I’m 67 years old. I need a treatment called IVIG. Nobody can tell if Medicare will cover this treatment. I also have supplement part G. Is there anyway you can help me out. I had this treatment before that my company insurance paid. Any help would be great. Found your information on the web. Thank you Dan

    1. Dan, thanks for reaching out! IVIG is covered under Medicare Part B if the treatment is deemed medically necessary by your physician. Medicare Part B will cover in-office infusion or at-home infusion. This means that you will only be responsible for the Medicare Part B deductible (if not already met) and your Plan G will cover the remaining costs.

  6. I have Medicare part A, my husband will retire in April at age 66 and 6 months, when should I apply for Medicare part B and can apply online I was told because I have part A I couldn’t apply online

    1. Shirley, you can apply for Part B up to 3 months before you want it to be active. You will need to call Social Security to complete your enrollment.

  7. I just signed up to start receiving SS Feb. 1, 2022, my 65 birthday. I checked off that I wanted Medicare Part B and I also have health insurance thru my husband’s company. Do I need to do anything else??

    1. Hi Pauline – we recommend taking Part A because it is premium-free if you’ve worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. If you have insurance through your husband’s company, you can actually waive Part B if the employer insurance is creditable. It will be creditable if the company has at least 20 employees.

  8. I will be 65 in Feb 2022 and will keep working until I am 66 1/2 in 2023. I am keeping my group health insurance through work until I retire. As required, I just signed up for Medicare Part A. Do I have to sign up for Part B now or can I wait until my retirement year without penalty?

    1. Hi Penny – Part A is not required but it is very strongly recommended that you take it, so it’s good that you did. Whether you can wait to sign up for Part B without penalty depends on whether your group health insurance through work is creditable. If your employer has fewer than 20 employees, you will face a penalty for delaying Part B. On the other hand, health insurance through an employer with 20 or more employees is creditable and you can waive Part B penalty-free until your retirement. Then, you will get a Special Enrollment Period for (voluntary) loss of coverage.

  9. I live in Michigan and retired from Ford motor Company and collecting social security
    and have Medicare part A and B why is it that I have to have a private insurance
    such as a company called in Michigan HAP what does it cover Thanks

    1. Hi Joseph – what you’re describing is a Medicare Advantage plan. You are not required to have private insurance in addition to Medicare; if you prefer, you can keep Original Medicare. In that case, you’ll need to cover the 20% coinsurance for Part A and Part B. If you want 100% coverage, Medicare Supplement plans are available for the price of a monthly premium.

  10. Hi, I’m currently on Medicare Part A and Part B. I also have group health insurance through my employer. We’re a small group, under 20 employees and our group insurance company previously required insureds to have Part B if they are eligible for Medicare. Recently the group insurance company sent a letter advising that they are changing how they coordinate benefits for Medicare Part B. The letter states beginning 01/01/2022 if I am not enrolled in Part B, the group insurance will be the primary payer. Our company’s insurance broker recommends I disenroll in Part B to save on the cost of the premiums. I’m hesitant to do so because of the potential penalty in the future for late enrollment. Your thoughts? Thank you.

  11. I have been on SSDI since 2014 and was briefly taken off from Aug 2019 until Aug 2020, since I tried to go back to work. I was informed since my SSDI was cancelled my Medicare parts A & B we’re also cancelled.
    Once my SSDI was reinstated, Aug 2020, my premium ($148.50) has never been taken out of my monthly check. Medicare.gov says I have original Medicare. I’m assuming Part A only?
    Do I need to somehow add Part B before I apply for an Advantage Plan? If so, will I be required to repay the monthly premium for the year I want receiving Medicare? I have gotten so many different answers I’m not sure what my ideal route needs to be.
    Also do I absolutely need Part B?

    1. Hi Dennis – if you want to join an Advantage plan, you will first need to enroll in Part B. Now, whether you’re required to pay back the monthly premium will be determined by Social Security. Ultimately, it depends on whether your Part B is backdated or if they give you a new effective date.

  12. My husband will retire in a few months. His union offers an Aetna medicare indemnity PPO. How does this fit in with the Medicare parts? It seems like part B with added benefits. Will a part G still pay the 20% that this does not cover?

    1. Hi Marylou – the PPO plan to which you refer is a Medicare Advantage plan. These types of plans stand-in for both Part A and Part B, also providing benefits like dental/vision/hearing and prescription drug coverage. Plan G is a Medigap plan, which you cannot have alongside a Medicare Advantage plan. Additionally, if you choose to go with Medigap, you’ll need to enroll in a standalone Part D plan for prescription drug coverage.

    1. Hi John – for 2021, the Part B deductible is $203. However, that amount is subject to increase in 2022 and the public will soon know next year’s dollar amount.

  13. I will be 65 in September and recently applied for Medicare, however I was just informed that since I will begin drawing my deceased spouse’s Social security first delaying mine until age 70, that I should file for Medicare under her record so the premium payment comes out of my spousal benefit. How do I correct this error?

    1. Hi Brenda! You will want to contact Social Security or Medicare directly to update your account accordingly. You will need to pay your Part B premium through your MyMedicare dashboard until this is updated to avoid a lapse in coverage.

    1. Hi Nick! If you have another form of international health coverage, it may be creditable coverage. There is very limited documentation on what international health insurance is considered creditable under Medicare. You would need to contact Medicare directly to make sure. If you don’t have any coverage, you will be penalized for not enrolling when you were first eligible, even if you are not living in the USA.

  14. Hi, I submitted my online application for Part B medicare (I have part A for a while now) and they received it 6/20/21. I have not received my new medicare card in the mail for A & B as of yet. If I have to see a doctor (currently having some pain) what can I do at this point?

    1. Hi Kathy! Have you created an account in MyMedicare.gov? You may be able to see your Medicare number in your dashboard to provide your doctor with.

  15. Hello, if I have only Medicare Part B. Will my outpatient doctor/Clinics visit covered outside my resident State?

    1. Hi Markeya! Yes, Part B will travel with you nationwide. You will have 80% coverage for any outpatient medical costs.

  16. Hello. As a retired Federal employee, I have FEHBP coverage with UHC-MD/IPA., an HMO. I didn’t sign up for Medicare when I became eligible in 2011. The part B premium will cost 148.50 plus a substantial late filing penalty when it kicks in July 2021 as I only signed up for Medicare last summer. Would I be better off dropping Part B? I don’t want to pay more that I have for Part B type services covered by the HMO. Many thanks for your advice.

    1. Hi Larry! Most FEHB plans offer a “coordination of benefits” with Medicare. The coordination cut costs by waiving deductibles, copayments, and coinsurances. Your penalty will continue to increase, the longer you wait to enroll the more your premium will be if you do enroll in the future. So, yes you can drop Part B, but that may not be the best choice in the long run since we cannot predict our healthcare costs. We have more on FEHB and Medicare benefits here.

  17. If you are being billed for part B and are now ready to sign up for SSI will they
    start taking it out of your SSI or do they still bill you.

    1. Hi Norman! If you have a Medicare Advantage plan I would contact your carrier directly to get the correct forms necessary. Normally, you’re responsible for 100% of the cost if the provider is out of network.

  18. How do I submit to Medicare for my provider accepting only at the time of the appointment and does not bill insurance?

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