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Medicare Part B

4 things to know about Medicare Part B:

  1. Medicare Part B is the optional part of Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).
  2. Medicare Part B is sometimes referred to as medical insurance.
  3. Medicare Part B provides health insurance coverage for medically necessary services and preventative services.
  4. You have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B. The standard monthly premium in 2017 is $134 but can be higher based on your income.

Medicare Part B (which — combined with Part A — makes up Original Medicare), provides health insurance coverage for medical services. It covers physician care and outpatient medical services, among other things.

Medicare Part B is optional. If you’re automatically enrolled, you can opt out of it. When you receive your Medicare card in the mail, just follow the instructions that come attached and send the card back. If you don’t follow these instructions, you will get Part B and must pay the premiums.

What does Medicare Part B cover?

Part B is considered medical insurance and covers services from screening tests to cancer services. Here’s an overview of Part B benefits:

  • Initial physical exam
  • Yearly wellness exam
  • Doctor services
  • Nursing care
  • Ambulance services
  • Chemotherapy
  • Diagnostic tests and screenings
  • Certain pap smear and mammography screenings
  • Pneumonia and flu vaccinations
  • Durable medical equipment

The medical care services listed above are only part of all of the health insurance benefits offered by Medicare Part B.

Medicare Part B premiums and other costs

Your Part B costs will come in the forms of premiums, deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance.

Premiums

Medicare Part B comes with a monthly premium. For most people, this is about $134 a month in 2017. If you are in a higher income bracket, though, you may pay up to $428.60 a month in 2017. You usually only have to pay a higher premium if your yearly income is over $85,000 individually or $170,000 as a couple.

Deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance

Medicare Part B comes with a $183 annual deductible in 2017. Part B won’t pay for anything until you pay that amount each year that you use the coverage.

After you pay the deductible, you still pay for a portion of the services covered by Part B. This is usually 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the service. Part B covers the other 80%.

If you don’t want to pay for deductibles or co-insurance, Medicare Supplement insurance (also called Medigap) can help. Medigap plans can help you fill in the coverage gaps. Two of the Medicare Supplement insurance plan options — Plan C and Plan F — will pay for your Medicare Part B deductible.

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