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What is Medicare Part B?

Original Medicare is made up of two parts: Part A and Part B. Medicare Part B is the medical insurance portion. It’s a voluntary program that helps cover a variety of outpatient medical services (and some services that occur in a hospital) as well as preventative care like tests, screenings and labs, and some medical equipment and supplies like wheelchairs or blood sugar test strips.

In this article:

Am I eligible for Part B?Jump to
What does Medicare Part B cover?Jump to
Medicare Part B costsJump to
How do I enroll in Part B?Jump to

Am I eligible for Part B?

Generally, you’re eligible for Part B if you meet one of the following criteria:i

  • You’re 65 or older and meet the citizenship and residency requirements
  • You’re receiving disability benefits
  • You have ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • You have ESRD (End-Stage Renal Disease)

What does Medicare Part B cover?

Generally, Part B covers anything that is deemed medically necessary by a doctor including preventative services. 

Medically necessary services

Services or supplies necessary to diagnose or treat your medical condition and that meet accepted standards of medical practice. Examples of medically necessary services are doctor’s visits, lab testing, home health care and more.

Examples of medically necessary services covered by Part B may include:

  • Doctor visits
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Outpatient therapy
  • Telehealth
  • Ambulance services
  • Durable medical equipment

Preventative services

Health care to prevent illness or detect it at an early stage when treatment is most likely to work best.

Example of preventative services covered by Part B may include:

  • Mammograms
  • Cancer screenings
  • Diabetes screenings
  • Depression screenings
  • Shots (flu, Hepatitis B, etc.)
  • Tobacco use cessation counseling

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Medicare Part B costs

Medicare Part B comes with monthly premiums which will be deducted from your Social Security check if you’re already receiving Social Security income benefits. Most people pay the standard premium rate which in 2022 is $170.10 per month for people new to Medicare. However, this rate can increase up to $578.30 in 2022 depending on your income.ii

2022 Medicare Part B Premiumsi
Individual Taxable Income $91,000 or less $91,000 - $114,00 $114,000 - $142,000 $142,000 - $170,0000 $170,000 - $500,000 $500,000 or aboveJoint Taxable Income $182,000 or less $182,000 - $228,000 $228,000 - $284,000 $284,000 - $340,000 $340,000 - $750,000 $750,000 or aboveMarried, Filing Taxes Separately $91,000 or less Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable $91,000 - $409,000 $409,000 or aboveYour Part B Premium $170.10 $238.10 $340.20 $442.30 $544.30 $578.30

If you don’t enroll when you’re first eligible and you don’t have creditable coverage from another source, you’ll likely have to pay a late penalty when you do enroll. That penalty comes in the form of higher monthly premiums for as long as you’re in the program.

In 2022, there is a $233 deductible for Part B.i  After you meet your deductible, your Part B covers 80% of the Medicare-approved amount for covered services. That leaves you paying for the remaining 20% of costs.

How do I enroll in Medicare Part B?

When you apply for your Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A. Although, you must choose to enroll into Medicare Part B. You can do this when you apply for your SSI benefits, or you can do so later through the Social Security Website.

You can enroll in Medicare Part B any time during your 7-month Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), starting 3 months before the month you turn 65. If you miss your IEP, you can enroll annually during the General Enrollment Period between January – March or during one of the Medicare-approved Special Enrollment Periods.

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i “Enrolling in Medicare Parts A & B.” Accessed Jan. 28, 2022.

ii “Medicare Costs at a Glance.” Accessed Jan. 28, 2022.

Denise Austin, 65, Ensurem Ambassador

Best-Selling Author, Creator of Fit Over 50 Magazine

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