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Home » Understanding Medicare Part B
September 15, 2021

Understanding Medicare Part B

The Medicare program started more than 50 years ago as a government-supported health insurance provider, and enabled millions of seniors and other Americans to receive critical medical benefits at affordable costs. Among the main components of original Medicare is Medicare Part B, which is the coverage that will help you receive the routine care that is essential to your wellbeing. 

Let’s take a closer look at Medicare Part B, its role in the Medicare system and how you can expect it to help your pay for your coverage. 
Woman holding Medicare sign
The Essentials of Part B 

Medicare in its purest form is known as Original Medicare. It contains two main types of coverage: Medicare Part A & Medicare Part B. 

Part A coverage is the first step towards getting full Medicare, and it pays hospital costs related to inpatient admissions, treatments, surgery and more. However, it is not the coverage that you will use for your standard physical, flu shot or other outpatient care. For that coverage, you must look to Medicare Part B. 

Often called outpatient insurance or medical insurance, Medicare Part B is primarily designed to cover standard costs of medical care that most people need at some point in their lives. Your regular checkup, immunizations, lab work, outpatient imaging, medical devices and such related care all will have coverage under Part B. Additionally, it will pay for certain treatments received in a hospital facility, such as chemotherapy or blood transfusions. However, it will work alongside Medicare Part A to create a more comprehensive level of coverage for those who need it most. 

The Cost of Part B Coverage  

Part A coverage is mandatory for all Medicare recipients. However, while Part B coverage is technically optional, most people greatly benefit from enrolling in Part B at the time they enroll in Part A. Usually, you must have Medicare Part A & Part B before you can qualify for additional benefits like Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare supplements. 

When you enroll in Part B, you will face certain cost sharing obligations: 

  • Part B coverage has an individual premium of $148.50 per month, though depending on your income, your premium might be higher. 

  • The Part B deductible in 2021 is $203. 

  • After you pay your deductible, your Part B plan will cover 80% of the costs of your care, while you will pay the remaining 20% of the care costs.  

  • Copayments might apply to certain services. 

Certain essential services, as defined by law, will have no cost at all. For example, Part B will usually cover your annual flu shot at no cost, as long as your doctor vaccinates Medicare recipients. 

Keep in mind, if you receive your Part B coverage as part of a Medicare Advantage plan, or if you have a Medicare supplemental plan, then your costs of care will vary. 

If you want to learn more about the cost of a test or service, visit Medicare.gov. 

Tags: Medicare

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