Medicare Part B is optional coverage you can buy from the federal government. It pays for some outpatient medical services that aren't covered by Medicare Part A. Part B is required to enroll in a Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan.
What does Part B cover?
Medicare Part B covers a range of outpatient services, including:
- Doctor or specialist office visits
- Preventive care such as flu shots and mammograms
- Lab costs, such as blood work and X-rays
- Medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and walkers
- Physical therapy
- Mental health care
- Ambulance services
- Annual wellness visits
How do I get Medicare Part B?
You qualify for Medicare Part B if you meet any of these requirements:
- You're 65 or older.
- You already get benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). In this case you may be automatically enrolled in Part B.
- You have a disability that qualifies for Medicare, such as end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
How much does Medicare Part B cost?
For Part B, you pay a premium to the government based on your income. Helpful things to know:
- Part B premiums are set each year by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), so your premium may change each year.
- Part B premiums are usually deducted from Social Security benefits.
- If Original Medicare (Parts A and B together) is your only coverage, you’ll also pay a yearly deductible.
- If you don’t sign up for Part B during your initial enrollment period, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.