Medicare Part B

Brief Overview of Part B Coverage
Medicare Part B is an additional layer of benefit protection for citizens eligible to receive Medicare. The rationale for this added category is to ensure availability of health services that do not fall under the provisions of Part A. Broadly speaking, Part B provides payment for professional services rendered outside the hospital context as well as ancillary procedures and care for which Part A does not pay. Among these services are:

  • Physician services – rendered either in a hospital setting or at an office visit, inpatient or outpatient
  • Lab work and imaging studies
  • Rehab therapy and physical therapist services
  • Ambulance transportation
  • Certain types of home-based care
  • Medically required equipment and supply items

Medicare Part B must be specifically selected by its recipients and monthly contributions and an annual deductible will be required. The premium amount is withheld from recipients’ Social Security disbursements. Services, procedures and supplies eligible under Part B are subject to a 20 percent co-pay borne by the insured. The amount assessed for the premium goes up each year in January. Anyone failing to register for Medicare Part B at their initial period of eligibility may be burdened by increased monthly premiums for the remainder of their life.

How Can I Tell If I Am Covered by Part B?

Your Medicare enrollment card will state whether you receive Part B benefits. Those registered for Part B will have an indication of that fact on their card. Anyone not previously electing Part B can always decide to enroll at a later date. But, if the initial period of Part B enrollment eligibility has passed (the period 90 days prior and 90 days following the 65th birthday), Part B coverage may be more expensive.

Anyone wishing to sign up for Part B can do so by visiting a Social Security branch office or by telephoning the Social Security Administration toll free at 1-800-722-1213. Part B is not without cost, as a monthly assessment will be withheld from Social Security disbursements or retirement benefits. The Part B premium for 2010 will fall somewhere between $96.40 and $353.60, and is determined by income level. Further, there will be an annual deductible of $155 in 2010 for Part B coverage. Once the deductible amount has been met by the insured, Part B benefits commence. The majority of expenses will be subject to a 20 percent co-pay.

Upon enrollment, a trio of plan choices will be provided. It is important to select wisely, as the coverage differs depending on which is chosen. The available options are:

  • Original Medicare Coverage Plan
  • Medicare Advantage (comparable to HMOs or PPOs)
  • Medicare fee-for-service coverage for private services