What is Medicare Part B?

By | March 6, 2010

Medicare Part B helps cover medically-necessary services. These include like doctors’ services, outpatient care and home health services. Some preventive services are also covered by Part B. Medically necessary services are services use to either diagnose or treat your medical condition. Supplies used to are to either diagnose or treat your medical condition are also covered. Both medical services and the supplies used must meet accepted standards of medical practice.

Medicare Part B augments Part A which is hospital insurance. It is included in Part C. Medicare Part D is a drug coverage add-on.

Part B also covers certain preventative services. Preventive health care is health care to prevent illnesses. Preventive services and supplies are also used to detect disease or illnesses at an early stage. The health care treatment is most effective when illnesses are detected early. Examples of early detection services include Pap tests, and colorectal cancer screenings. An example of preventive health care is getting a flu shot.

In most cases, you are automatically enrolled in Part B when you get benefits from either social security or the Railroad Retirement Fund (RRB). Benefits start the first day of the month in which you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first day of the month, Part B coverage starts on the first day of the prior month.

If you are under age 65 and disabled, you will automatically get Part B after you get disability benefits from Social Security. For certain disability benefits from the RRB, you will automatically get Part B after 24 months.

If you are not automatically enrolled through Social Security or RRB, you must sign up for Part B when you are first eligible. If you do not, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty. The general enrollment period is between January 1 and March 31 each year. Your coverage will begin on July 1. There is also a special enrollment period for those who stay on their spouses insurance after they retire.

Part B requires you to pay a premium. There is a standard premium amount, but you might pay more. It depends on your income. If you have limited income and resources, it is possible to get help paying your Medicare premiums. If you have Social Security, or RRB, you will get your Medicare card in the mail about 3 months before your 65th birthday. Otherwise you will get your Medicare card on your 25th month of disability. If you don’t want Part B, you will need to follow the instructions that included with the card. You must send the card back. If you do not, you will be enrolled in Part B and have to pay Part B premiums.

So, what is Medicare Part B?

The original Medicare plan was essentially Part A – hospital insurance. Part B was added to cover medical services not covered in Part A. However, Medicare Part A and Part B do not cover everything. There are gaps. There are private insurance companies which provide health insurance coverage to fill those gaps. This type of insurance in generally known as Medigap insurance. You can check out the resources and links on this site to find more information about Medicare plans.