In our last blog post, we looked at the services covered by Medicare Part A. As we noted then, different aspects of the Medicare program cover different things.
This week, we’re going to look at the services covered by Medicare Part B, how you can become eligible, and what the program could cost.
What is Medicare Part B?
Like Part A, Medicare Part B is part of the original Medicare legislation and covers medically necessary services, including:
- Outpatient care
- Preventive services
- Ambulance services
- Durable medical equipment
- Mental health services
- Lab tests
It also covers part-time home health care, intermittent home health care and rehab services like physical therapy, as long they are ordered by your doctor to treat your condition.
The program also covers a one-time “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit, hepatitis B and flu shots and screenings for heart health, cancer and diabetes.
People who enroll in the Medicare Advantage plan get access to Medicare Part A and B through private insurers. By law, these plans must offer the same level of coverage as original Medicare, although some plans will include added services such as dental, vision, hearing and prescription drug coverage.
Who is eligible for Medicare Part B?
Anyone who is already eligible for Medicare Part A can also receive Medicare Part B by enrolling and paying a premium each month. Even if you aren’t eligible for Part A, you can qualify for Medicare Part B if you are:
- Over 65 years old
- A U.S. citizen or permanent resident legally living in the U.S. for five continuous years
You can also qualify for Medicare Part B through disability. If you are under 65 and receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits you’ll automatically be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and B 24 months after the benefits begin.
You can also enroll in Medicare Part B before you’re 65 if you have end-stage renal disease or ALS (otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
When can I enroll in Medicare Part B?
If you receive retirement benefits before age 65 or qualify for Medicare due to a disability, you’ll typically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B as soon as you’re eligible.
If you don’t enroll during your initial enrollment period or aren’t qualified for special enrollment, you can sign up during the yearly general enrollment period, from January 1 to March 31. Your coverage will start on July 1. You might need to pay a late fee for not signing up when you first became eligible.
What premiums will I have to pay under Medicare Part B?
Premiums can change from year to year and could depend on your situation. In many cases, the premium is automatically taken out of your Social Security benefits.
In 2019, the standard monthly Part B premium is $135.50, although you might pay more if your income exceeds a certain amount.
The $135 figure is for people making $85,000 a year or less. If your yearly income is between $85,001 and $107,000, for example, you’ll pay a monthly premium of $189.
How do I know if the services I need are covered?
If you’re not sure of the service you need, talk to your doctor and ask if Medicare will cover you. You can also visit the Medicare coverage website, which allows you to search for the service in question.
Like any health insurance program, Medicare can be tough to navigate. We’re glad we can provide a little bit of insight into this plan, just as we’re glad we can make our customers lives easier with our accessibility products.
For years, seniors in the Philadelphia area have relied on Pennsylvania Stair Lifts to provide high-quality stair lifts and other home mobility products to make their living spaces safer and more accessible. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you.