What Does Medicare Part B Cover?
Medicare Part B, sometimes referred to as “medical insurance,” generally covers two types of medical services. First, it covers medically necessary health services and supplies, like outpatient doctor visits, tests, wheelchairs and walkers. Second, Part B covers preventive services like screenings, annual wellness exams and others.
A more exhaustive list for Part B coverage from Medicare.gov includes items such as:
- Clinical research
- Ambulance services
- Durable medical equipment (DME)
- Certain mental health services
- Getting a second opinion before surgery
- Limited outpatient prescription drugs
You can also find a comprehensive list of Medicare-approved preventive services and screenings on the Medicare.gov website.
Is Medicare Part B Mandatory?
While Medicare Part B is not technically mandatory, if you do not enroll when you are eligible at age 65 or when you retire from the workforce, you can incur penalties that continue the rest of your life.
How Much Does Medicare Part B Cost?
Medicare Part B has a standard annual deductible ($185 in 2019) and a monthly premium ($135.50 for most Medicare enrollees). After the deductible is met, you typically pay 20 percent of the total cost of services out of pocket and Medicare covers the rest. When budgeting for your Part B costs, note that there is no cap on the 20 percent that you will be responsible for paying.
Individuals who are enrolled on Medicare Supplement plans in addition to Original Medicare could be responsible for the Part B standard annual deductible. However, their Supplement plan will cover their share of Part B costs that are approved by Medicare.