What is Medicare Part B?

3 min. readlast update: 10.17.2023

Medicare Part B is one of the four parts of the U.S. government's Medicare program, which provides health insurance for individuals who are 65 years old or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and those with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Here are some key points about Medicare Part B:

  1. Medical Insurance: Medicare Part B is often referred to as "Medical Insurance" because it primarily covers medically necessary services and supplies that are considered outpatient care. This includes services provided by doctors, specialists, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare providers.

  1. Doctor Visits: Part B covers visits to doctors, including primary care physicians and specialists, as well as preventive services such as screenings, vaccinations, and annual wellness visits.

  1. Outpatient Care: Medicare Part B covers a wide range of outpatient services, such as laboratory tests, X-rays, durable medical equipment (like wheelchairs or walkers), ambulance services, and mental health services.

  1. Diagnostic Services: Part B includes coverage for diagnostic tests, including blood tests, diagnostic imaging (like MRI and CT scans), and diagnostic procedures.

  1. Therapy Services: Part B covers medically necessary therapy services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services.

  1. Preventive Services: Medicare Part B provides coverage for a variety of preventive services, such as screenings for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and other health conditions.

  1. Costs: Part B requires individuals to pay a monthly premium, which is generally based on their income. Additionally, there is an annual deductible that needs to be met before Medicare starts paying its share. After the deductible is met, Medicare generally covers 80% of the approved amount for services, and the individual is responsible for the remaining 20% (referred to as coinsurance).

  1. Enrollment: Most individuals become eligible for Medicare Part B when they turn 65 years old. There is an initial enrollment period during which individuals can sign up for Part B without incurring a late enrollment penalty. If someone is still actively working and covered by employer-based health insurance, they may have the option to delay enrolling in Part B without facing penalties.

It's important to note that Medicare Part B is different from Medicare Part A, which primarily covers inpatient hospital care. To receive comprehensive coverage, most people enroll in both Part A and Part B, collectively referred to as "Original Medicare."

For more detailed information about Medicare Part B, including specific coverage and enrollment details, it is recommended to review official Medicare resources or speak with a Medicare representative.

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